Chapter Three: How We Teach

In Chapter Three Schmoker argues that the most important factor in improving student achievement is improved classroom instruction.

The largest argument Schmoker makes in Chapter Three is that “effective lessons share the same, well-known core structure”:

  1. Clear Learning Objectives.
  2. Teaching/Modeling/Demonstrating.
  3. Guided Practice.
  4. Checks for Understanding/Formative Assessment.

The chapter reviews research on the elements of effective lessons, then gives two simple templates for Lecture and Literacy lessons with an emphasis on “Interactive Lecture” and “Authentic Literacy”.

Give an example of how you use (or could use) “Interactive Lecture” or “Authentic Literacy” within your classroom. Create a lesson using the core structure above or explain how you could integrate either one of these templates.

Chapters 4-7 give examples for each of the four core content areas of Language Arts, Social Studies, Science and Math. Read your core area of interest to help guide your own examples.

Focus on FOCUS

Here is an opportunity (sorry, bad word)…here is your chance to make a comment or educated insight about the book FOCUS.

Please comment on what you’ve read so far in FOCUS. Simply “Leave a Reply” to this post to add your thoughts.

If you’re inspired by someone’s thoughts and would like to add your own input…make sure specifically to reply on that persons’s post creating a Comment Thread. If you have your own insights begin a new comment thread.

Chapter Two: What We Teach

In Chapter Two Schmoker argues that we need to go “back to the future” and teach adequate amounts of subject-area content, that we need to have our students problem solve, and that our students need to do purposeful reading, writing and discussion. It is with this sort of curriculum that we prepare our students for College, Careers, and Citizenship.

The largest argument Schmoker makes in Chapter Two is “Less is More”. We need to simplify our standards. He cites author David Conley’s “Standards for Success” where there are four standards that can “powerfully inform student reading, writing, and talking in every discipline”:

  1. Read to infer/interpret/draw conclusions.
  2. Support arguments with evidence.
  3. Resolve Conflicting views encountered in source documents.
  4. Solve complex problems with no obvious answer.

The rest of the chapter goes on to make a case for “drastically reducing content standards” and gives examples in how to do this.

How would you (or would you) simplify our state standards? What is your opinion about David Conley’s four “Standards for Success”? Explain

Chapter One: The Importance of Simplicity, Clarity, and Priority

Chapter One of FOCUS stresses the importance of Simplicity, Clarity, and Priority. Schmoker begins by saying that the “underperformance of schools can be directly attributed to a failure to implement three simple, well-known elements: a common curriculum, sound lessons, and authentic literacy.”

To illustrate “The Power of Simplicity, Clarity, and Priority” Schmoker gives examples of a football team, a hospital, three different books, the companies Best Buy, Apple Computers and Borax, along with a couple of different schools.

Finally, Schmoker demands that “we need…to define our priorities with ‘piercing clarity’ and then say ‘no, thank you’ to anything that would divert us from successfully implementing them.” In other words, we need a “core”, which is our common goal of a “common curriculum, sound lessons, and authentic literacy.”

What common goal(s) have we as a building or district implemented successfully (or somewhat successfully) during your time here at Huntington? Explain why & how.

Before you Read

Teaching is one of the few careers where you truly have the ability to positively impact people’s lives. However, there always seems to be factors getting in the way (policy, parents, apathy, budgets, etc.).

Before reading Schmoker’s book FOCUS, take a few minutes to post an answer (Leave a reply) to the following question:

If you could change one area of teaching that you believe would dramatically impact our profession what would it be and why?

Please feel free to REPLY to those comments where you may have more input to offer.