Reading Improvement

inspired by: Teaching the Best Practice Way: Methods That Matter K-12 by Harvey Daniels and Marilyn Bizzar (2005) Stenhouse Publishers

 
 

What ARE Best Practices?

Best Practices engage the learner in relevant experiences in which he/she is able to construct new meaning while taking more responsibility for personal learning.

Best Practices Less Practices
  • more experiential, inductive, hands-on brain-based learning
  • more activity, movement, collaboration,
  • more emphasis on curriculum depth and higher-order thinking
  • more concepts and fewer topics
  • more time devoted to reading whole original works
  • more transfer of goal setting, monitoring and evaluation to students
  • more varying cognitive activities
  • more affective domain strategies
  • more learning community-style collaboration
  • more eclectic and individualized activities
  • more scaffolding and
  • more challenging curriculum
  • more reflectivity and constructivism
  • more student ownership and initiation of learning
  • more democracy
  • less whole-class-instruction (lecturing, student passivity, sitting, listening, receiving, absorbing information, while rewarding silence
  • less fill-in-the-blank, dittos, workbooks, seatwork
  • less student isolation in rows, behind text books or computers
  • less curriculum breath
  • less  memorization
  • less competition for grades
  • less leveling of students
  • less pull-out special programs
  • less reliance on standardize testing
  • less repetitive meaningless drills
  • less of copying or regurgitating correct answers
  • less of conducting conferences where students have no voice
  • less competition
 
 

  7 Key Descriptors:
  1. Reading-as-thinking
  2. Representing-to-learn
  3. Small-group activities
  4. Classroom workshop
  5. Authentic experiences
  6. Reflective assessment
  7. Integrative units
 

 
 

Reading-as-thinking

Reading-as-thinking or Content Mastery Reading involves pre-reading activities, reading,  writing, thinking, questioning, and discussing while using challenging and/or nonfiction materials to study the big ideas (concepts).

Reading-as-thinking

 
 

Reading-as-thinking

Representing-to-learn addresses the "hands-on" aspects of brain-based learning using graphic, manipulative, modeling, and simulation strategies. These take place in a multitude of genre: graphing, writing, drawing, songs, rhymes, murals, performances, plays, models, simulations, manipulatives and concept mapping. Each artifact is authentic with a defined real audience, service, or purpose. Project-based curriculum can be used as service-based , problem-based, or research-based curriculum.

New learning theories stress that knowledge has a "half-life" of hours, minutes or seconds. Understanding that new basics require the ability to recognize patterns

 

Reading-as-thinking

 
 

Reading-as-thinking

Whole-classroom instruction is DEAD!

The reduction of class size (15 students and below) has been shown by numerous research studies ( http://www.nsba.org/site/sec_peac.asp?TRACKID=&CID=1242&DID=36344 AND http://www.nea.org/classsize/index.html AND http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/ClassSize/class.pdf ) to improve student achievement. In fact the smaller the group the better students progress. When smaller class sizes are not an option, then manipulating instruction so that small-group activities can become a common occurrence in any classroom is a reasonable solution.

WARNING: Some educators assumed that putting "aides" in the classroom would render the same outcomes as reducing class size. In fact, the research studies showed just the opposite effect. Aides and/or non-certified individuals placed in classrooms, usually assigned to students needing the most acceleration, were shown to lead to lower student achievement ( http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/RB_602CJRB.pdf ) .

BEST PRACTICES: Small-group activities insure that each student gains MORE individual attention from facilitator, mentors, and peers. This provides the maximum environment for social learning which according to Albert Bandura is a pre-requisite to long-term learning. It has also been shown to be highly motivating for many African American adolescents. Small groups also assist adolescents in overcoming the  phenomenon of learned helplessness which research studies have shown to result from depression and isolation in humans.

Cooperative learning environments assist students in generating positive learning goals instead of devisive oppositional behavior. Small collaborative groups also promote higher-order thinking when the activities are clear and structured. When students are given roles and rubrics to self-evaluate their own performances, more in-depth learning takes place which can be transferred to long-term memory.

Reading-as-thinking

 
 

Reading-as-thinking

The classroom workshop allows students to expand the depth of understanding about self-selected topics. Activities are seen as processes, not bodies of knowledge. Students are able to choose from a broad range of topics, set their own academic goals reflect on their own improvement, collaborate in their own growth plans, and review their own work or artifacts. Students are given the freedom to explore and research in-depth topics that naturally motivate them. They are given eclectic choices for expressing and representing what they learn. They take responsibility for their learning and own performance.

We give teachers workshops regularly, think of what could be done giving students the same intensive opportunity for active learning..

Reading-as-thinking

 
 

Reading-as-thinking

The learning environment should only require students to perform when the performance is meaningful and authentic. Testing for testing sake is harmful when the assessment has no meaning and/or no real value. Monotonous assignments that do not engage the learner in meaningful extended concepts is "forgettable" and a waste of time and energy. Unfortunately, many classrooms spend most of their time in "forgettable", meaningless activities.

Brain-based research studies show that the brain understands, retains, and assimilates information when:

  1. learning takes place in real-world (authentic) environments.
  2. learning takes place in a social setting
  3. content and skills are made relevant to the learner
  4. content and skills are tied to the learner's prior knowledge set. In other words, the learner has enough previous experience with the content to have a place to "file" or "connect" the new information.
  5. formative assessments should be based on and understanding of growth, expectation, and continuous improvement. Failure does not become either an option or a point of discussion.
  6. the learner is mentored and nurtured to become self-regulatory and self-aware.
  7. the teacher serves as a guide to facilitate individual student improvement
  8. the teacher serves as a mediator to ensure that multiple perspectives, scenarios, and diverse representations of the content are available to the learner.

The constructivist classroom makes accommodations for learning to take place in authentic and real-world environments. The experience is essential for hands-on learning. Modern brain-based research studies widely show that the experience, both socially oriented and object oriented, is a primary catalyst of knowledge construction. "Experience provides the activity upon which the mind operates. In addition, knowledge construction is enhanced when the experience is authentic. For the cognitive constructivist, authentic experiences are essential so that the individual can construct an accurate representation of the "real" world, not a contrived world.  The authentic experiences are important so that the individual may construct mental structures that are viable in meaningful situations (Contructivist Pedagogy).
 

Reading-as-thinking

 
 

Reading-as-thinking

http://www.brighton.ac.uk/bbs/workingpapers/wh_oharabbs04.pdf

 

Reading-as-thinking

 
 

 

Reading-as-thinking

 

Reading-as-thinking

Reading-as-thinking