kitchen table math, the sequel: 2/22/09 - 3/1/09

Saturday, February 28, 2009

"learning styles don't exist"

Saxon Math vs TERC

Student math achievement was significantly higher in schools assigned to Math Expressions and Saxon, than in schools assigned to Investigations and SFAW. Average HLM-adjusted spring math achievement of Math Expressions and Saxon students was 0.30 standard deviations higher than Investigations students, and 0.24 standard deviations higher than SFAW students. For a student at the 50th percentile in math achievement, these effects mean that the student’s percentile rank would be 9 to 12 points higher if the school used Math Expressions or Saxon, instead of Investigations or SFAW.

Achievement Effects of Four Early Elementary School Math Curricula: Findings from First Graders in 39 Schools

Here's the Education Week article, which is worth weighing in on.

inflexible knowledge


I've told C. he has to start doing a page of problems in Greenhall's Acing the New SAT I Math, which I ordered after comparing Amazon reader reviews for the various prep books. 

Today both he and I were stumped by this problem:

8. S is the sum of 4 consecutive integers, the smallest of which is n. In terms of S, what is the sum of four consecutive integers of which the greatest is n?

I solved it via "mathematical reasoning," a phrase I'm putting in quotation marks because while I do possess sufficient mathematical reasoning abilities to solve this problem via number lines and "n + 1s," apparently I do not possess sufficient mathematical reasoning power to solve it via substitution. (Or, rather, to recognize the fact that I am looking at a simple substitution problem.)

This is maddening.

However, the book is obviously going to be good for me to work through. 

Fun, too.

Does it take 10 years for inflexible knowledge to start easing up a bit?

Do we know?


I use white boards with my remedial classes all the time. Even though they are sophomores, they get so excited when they see the boards and markers lying out at the front of the room. It is exhausting because I have boards waving around in the air with everyone saying at the same time, "Is mine right?", "Miss, Miss, look at mine!"

I too, am an undercover direct instruction teacher. I just smile and nod and act like I agree with all the Discover Learning evangelists who come to our school and do professional development. Then I go into my room, shut my door and do what I know is right.

No one can argue with my scores though. I was asked by our principal to take three sections of 10th graders who are on the "bubble" this year because our school did not meet AYP last year based on 10th grade math scores. He's not really sure what I am doing with my classes, but he's smart enough to know it works!

palisadesk on students learning at school vs. at home

This is partly a difference between high and low-SES school communities. In very low SES urban neighborhoods, especially with many families that do not speak English, the expectation that parents will help with work at home to any significant degree simply won't wash.

My district does not permit using homework for school grades -- all work used to evaluate student learning must be done in school. The expectation is that all the teaching required will also be done in school. Our primary division is really quite strong on the teaching side of things, with the vast majority of kids meeting or exceeding expectations for their grade and a lot of support and good instructional practices (if not curricula) are in place.

Unfortunately, with high mobility and transience, by the middle school years there is a huge influx of students lacking the preparation "our" kids received and the achievement is much more varied and the task confronting classroom teachers almost impossible.

Nevertheless, a lot of learning does take place at school, and despite the odds, a number of our students are successful in getting into competitive secondary schools (usually these are students we have had from the beginning).

We have a long way to go, but the focus is certainly on teaching the kids *in school* and not on relying on parents or tutors to do it -- that is just not going to happen.

a 21st century problem courtesy of Steve H

"One recent morning, seven parents left their homes and jobs and drove to an administrative office here to sit through a two-hour tutorial on addition and subtraction." (comments needed )

This sounds like the start of a word problem!

Then how many hours will it take to tutor parents when they get to fractions? How many hours for algebra? What is the shape of this curve? (Hint: Can you say " exponential"?)="">

Bonus question:

How much steeper will the curve be if the school uses discovery methods during their parent tutorials?

Please use your critical thinking skills.

what's wrong with Power Point

a comment posted about Frank Cardulla's high school chemistry course at The Great Teaching Company:
"I bought this course to help my oldest son in his high school chemistry class. I had a tough time convincing him to view the videos so I decided that it might be better if I viewed them first and then used what I learned to tutor him. It worked like a charm. I would bring my personal DVD player each day on my workouts and finished the whole series in about two weeks. It gave me everything that I needed to help my son do better. Honestly, as a college instructor myself I found it refreshing that he made extensive use of the paper and easel. It was a nice relief from the PowerPoint "poisoning" that we are often subjected to in modern day classrooms and board rooms. It also was good to see how he slowly built up to the solution of a problem rather than simply magically having the answer appear in pretty text on the screen. This course was an absolute joy. If there is ever another course produced by him in the future I will be sure to buy it."

PowerPoint isn't writing

Friday, February 27, 2009

Pearson's Claims of Success with Investigations are Put to Rest

The parents against "Investigations in Number, Data and Space" in Prince William County, Virginia, have been busy lately. Some of them put together a well written report refuting the "success stories" about Investigations touted by Pearson Publishing. The report has been posted on the Teach Math Right web site, and can be downloaded here.

Towards the end of the report in the section called "Success Stories" there are emails and records of phone conversations with people in the school districts that were touted by Pearson as having success with Investigations. They were fairly candid in their emails--perhaps they didn't know just how public this report was going to be. One of my favorites is this one:

Fairfield City School District, OH - Elementary Curriculum Coordinator:

"I did ask teachers to keep their thoughts to themselves and not express their dislike of the program to the parents. And that actually worked. I told them they could have the parent call me or they could say whatever they wanted about the program when we had our PDs [professional development]. I asked them to do their venting any way but [not] with the parents and the children. Another thing in our favor was that the school that did the pilot was one of our lower achieving schools, but their test scores went up significantly."
[Email of 2/9/09]

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

comments needed

One recent morning, seven parents left their homes and jobs and drove to an administrative office here to sit through a two-hour tutorial on addition and subtraction.

They were not seeking a refresher on arithmetic, but rather a better understanding of the mathematics lessons their sons and daughters were studying in class and bringing home with them every night.

The adults from the Prince William County, Va., district, located in the suburbs of Washington, were taking part in a school-sponsored math workshop for parents—the sort of forum that has become a fixture in districts across the country. Schools and districts arrange the events to encourage parents to take an active role in their children’s math learning, as well as to answer questions and concerns about what students are being taught.

That outreach takes many forms. Some schools and districts organize family math nights, which bring students, teachers, and parents together, in the hope of making the subject less intimidating and more fun.

Other events, like the one in Prince William County reach out to parents through day, evening, or weekend workshops, and focus more specifically on math content.


The district uses an elementary math curriculum called Investigations in Number, Data, and Space [TERC] that has roused strong objections from some parents, who say it sacrifices traditional arithmetic strategies for what they see as less appealing methods for building students’ math reasoning and problem-solving ability.


One contributing factor has been a requirement by some schools that parents sign contracts to help their children with homework or take an active role in their academic work, Ms. Barber said. The introduction of new and unfamiliar math curricula, sometimes called "reform" approaches, has also compelled districts like Prince William to connect more with parents, she said.

"There's a recognition that we need to bring parents along in that way," Ms. Barber said.

Parents Schooled in Learning How to Help With Math
By Sean Cavanagh

I'm pretty sure schools can't "require" parents to teach math.

But if they're going to "require" it, they better let us in on the curriculum selections.

Here's Barry's comment:
Parents are working with their children to teach them the math that is not being taught in schools. Compounding the problem is that a child still has to turn in homework, so the parent has to figure out what is going on in the classroom. Since Investigations, (and Everyday Math for that matter) do not have textbooks, if a child didn't understand that they were supposed to do, then the parent is in the dark as to how to approach the homework. This is very common in Everyday Math which would give students problems for which they had not had instruction, like 8.75/0.5. What they had learned to do in class was solve it as 875/5, and then using deduction and some "number sense", figure out where the decimal point would go in the quotient.

Such a cart before the horse approach to math education is tantamount to throwing a kid in a swimming pool and telling him or her that now would be a good time to learn some basic swim techniques.

School districts and publishers spin what's happening as "parent involvement" and isn't it just wonderful. What's really happening is parents are involved because the schools have totally abdicated their responsibility to teach math. And one can't really blame the schools: NSF funded these atrocities and their imprimatur seems to convince otherwise intelligent people that this total garbage has some merit.

And, from another satisfied customer:
The reason they are holding workshops is to try and diffuse the fury over math investigations. Our children are not learning the basics and without being able to add, they cannot get a deeper understanding.

The math department has created a massive divide in our county and destroyed our childrens math abilities at the same time; nice going.

As for the Evidence for Success brochure that they tout as research, most of those districts have dropped or are dropping MI and the rest are heavily funded title 1 districts or only have a few schools. A parent contacted every one of them.

Note that there were no comments from dissenting parents in that article; totally biased. We look forward to returning to real mathematics so we don't have to teach so much at home.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Red Meat

Here's a little red meat for DI carnivores. The blue bars represent the frequency of occurrence for various point totals scored on a test after 4 weeks of CMP discovery. Pretty sad, eh?

The red bars represent the frequencies on the exact same test after three days of DI remediation on the same topic. Makes me go; hmmmmmm!

I did remediation using a method described on d-edreckoning by Saul Axelrod using whiteboards for choral response. We spent the days doing word problems with kids answering on their own boards. Wrong answers were immediately corrected by pairing up kids who goofed with ones who got it. We only advanced to more complexity when 80% of the room was doing tasks error free and independently.

A funny aside is that I got caught. My VP heard the raucous class and came in to see what was going on. Kids were jumping up and down with excitement over getting correct answers. Kids who were often unresponsive and did no work in discovery mode were begging me to give them harder questions. The VP just smiled and walked out. He's pretty savvy so I was lucky.

My next task is to figure out a way to diguise this horribly boring, discreditied drill and kill instruction so that it looks like discovery. That way, I can keep doing it. Failing that, I'm seriously considering a surveillance system for the corridors. Then I can see who's coming and set up a system with the kids where I can give a high sign and they can hide the whiteboards. I'm going to cut them down so they fit in their binders. We'll set it up so they have a ready made discovery task ready to slap on the desk, just in time.

There's nothing the kids like better than a bit of conspiracy and rule breaking. I just have to make them feel like co-conspirators and they'll step up.

It's too late for my 14 year old.

I'm only 43 pages into Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto and the anguish is overwhelming at times. I read passage after passage aloud to my husband, because I just can't keep it to myself. Last night, after a particularly insightful bit, I looked at my son and said: "Would you like to teach yourself high school?"

"With books and investigation, " I said, pointing to The Three Musketeers, he is reading & enjoying for school. "That's how Jefferson, Washington & Lincoln did it. I'll help"
"He stared at me in disbelief" I thought he was contemplating the freeing possibilities.
"Nah," he said, "I'd probably be too lazy."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Literacy 2.0

Having just taken a look at the March issue of Educational Leadership, I conclude that the amount of reading students do in K-12 will be dropping even further than it already has, a development that does not bode well for SAT scores.

Apparently, the hive mind has concluded that here in the 21st century "literacy" no longer means "reading:"
New media demand new literacies. Because of inexpensive, easy-to-use, widely distributed new media tools, being literate now means being able to read and write a number of new media forms, including sound, graphics, and moving images in addition to text.

New media coalesce into a collage
. Being literate also means being able to integrate emerging new media forms into a single narrative or "media collage," such as a Web page, blog, or digital story. That is, students need to be able to use new media collectively as well as individually

New media are largely participatory, social media. Digital literacy requires that students have command of the media collage within the context of a social Web, often referred to as Web 2.0. The social Web provides venues for individual and collaborative narrative construction and publication through blogs and such services as MySpace, Google Docs, and YouTube. As student participation goes public, the pressure to produce high-quality work increases.


Being able to actively create rather than just passively consume new media is important for the obvious reason that it teaches literacy and job skills that are highly valued in a digital society.


A strong case can be made that commanding new media constitutes the current form of general literacy and that adding the modifier digital is simply not necessary anymore. Whether or not this is the case, digital literacy warrants a central focus in K–12 learning communities.


1. Shift from text centrism to media collage.

General literacy means being able to read and write the media forms of the day, which currently means being able to construct an articulate, meaningful, navigable media collage. The most common media collage is the Web page, but a number of other media constructs also qualify, including videos, digital stories, mashups, stand-and-deliver PowerPoint presentations, and games and virtual environments, to name a few.


Both essay writing and blog writing are important, and for that reason, they should support rather than conflict with each other. Essays, such as the one you are reading right now, are suited for detailed argument development, whereas blog writing helps with prioritization, brevity, and clarity. The underlying shift here is one of audience: Only a small portion of readers read essays, whereas a large portion of the public reads Web material. Thus, the pressure is on for students to think and write clearly and precisely if they are to be effective contributors to the collective narrative of the Web.


7. Develop literacy with digital tools and about digital tools.

In practical terms, access to citizenship is largely a function of literacy. This is not a new concept. Jefferson wrote copiously about the need for an educated and literate public if democracy was to succeed.

Topics such as the environmental effects of living a technology-enhanced lifestyle and the social costs of the digital divide provide important subject matter for project-based learning that involves science, social studies, and other curriculum areas. Having students research the personal, local, and global implications of these issues will help them place technology within the larger perspective of community and reevaluate their idea of what it means to be successful. Having them address these issues in school will show them that the goal of education is to produce not only capable workers, but also caring, involved, and informed neighbors and citizens.


Although some teachers are genuinely excited about the emerging nature of literacy brought about by powerful digital tools, others feel overwhelmed—some to the point where they are prompted to leave the profession.

Orchestrating the Media Collage
by Jason Ohler
Educational Leadership March 2009 Vol. 66 No. 6

Jayson Ohler is a digital humanist.

communications majors on the rise
Schoolbook Simplification and Its Relation to the Decline in SAT-Verbal Scores
Donald P. Hayes home page
decline in SAT-V scores - chart

decline and fall

Table 2: Average SAT Scores of Entering College Classes, 1967–2004*

Kruse Kronicle

* When the SAT was renormed in April 1995, mean scores were set at or near the midpoint of 500 of the 200–800 score scale, a process called recentering. All scores in this table reflect that process. Means after 1996 are recentered, and those for 1996 are based on recentered scores plus scores converted from the original to the new scale. Means for 1987–1995 were recomputed after individual scores were converted from the original to the new scale; means for 1972–1986 were converted to the new scale after a formula was applied to the original mean and standard deviation; and means before 1972 are based on estimates.

perfect SAT scores

A few years ago I read a book about kids who scored perfect 1600s on the SAT. The main feature of perfect-scoring kids that distinguished them from everyone else was the amount of reading they did --  more importantly, the amount of assigned reading:
[S]tudents who ace the SAT read an average of fourteen hours a week. Average score students, on the other hand, read only eight hours a week—an immense drop-off. The biggest difference, however, was found in the amount of time students spent reading for school. Average score students spent four hours a week reading literature, textbooks, and other assigned reading for school. Perfect score students put in nine hours a week for school-assigned reading, more than double the amount of time.


What do 1600 students read for fun?...The book most frequently mentioned—by a total of 6 percent of perfect score students—was Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

The Perfect 1600 Score: The 7 Secrets of Acing the SAT
Tom Fischgrund

bonus factoid: One of my friend's children had something very close to a perfect score on the new 3-section SAT. (I don't know what her other child scored, but it had to be quite high as well.)

No SAT prep class & no tutor.

Just 13 years of Catholic schools. perfectscore assignedreading

Monday, February 23, 2009

cranberry on wealthy schools & the sorting machine

The tracking and sorting process goes on, while the administration denies its long-term effects on the students. Placement into high school courses is decided on the basis of teacher recommendations, not grades, strangely enough.

In our affluent high school, we're told, "all the students who remain in the top math track, who take AP BC calc, receive 5s." As a parent, I feel that this means that they are too restrictive in placement, and encourage too many children to drop out of the most demanding track. 3 is passing. Our society does not need to save tuition for 6% of the graduating class. Our society needs as many children as possible to take challenging math classes.

I took AP BC calc in my day, and received a 5. Frankly, it's not that challenging a course. More than 6% of the school population should be prepared to take the test. If the top 20% were encouraged to remain on track for BC Calc, or even the top 15%, I'd find it much more equitable.

I do feel the pressure of, "your kid's not that special, you know," in the insistence that the academic load is challenging, while seeing how restrictive placement is.
Same here.

Attewell's study (pdf file) is a revelation:
The odds of a student in an affluent star public school taking AP math or AP science are 71 -76 percent of the odds of a student of the same demographics and SAT who attends a nonstar public school.

The Winner-Take-All High School: Organizational Adaptations to Educational
by Paul Attewell
p. 286

That's what we pay the big bucks for.

Rubber Room

via Jaye Greene

"The biggest problem that we face on a day to day basis is the discipline and the lack of disciplinary consequences."

This is the biggest problem students and parents face, too (arguably), and it is a major reason why middle class families with children have been at high risk of banktupcy for years now.

Here's Elizabeth Warren:
The rise in housing costs has become a family problem. Home prices have grown across the board (particularly in larger urban areas), but the brunt of the price increases have fallen on families with children. Our analysis shows that the median home value for the average childless couple increased by 26 percent between 19874 and 2001—an impressive rise in less than twenty years. (Again, these and all other figures are adjusted for inflation.) For married couples with children, however, housing prices shot up 78 percent during this period—three times faster. To put this in dollar terms, in 1984 the average married couple with young children owned a house worth $72,000. Less than twenty years later, a similar family bought a house worth $128,000—an increase of more than $50,000. The growing costs made a big dent in the family budget, as monthly mortgage costs made a similar jump, despite falling interest rates….

Why would the average parent spent so much money on a home?


For many parents, the answer came down to two words so powerful that families would pursue them to the brink of bankruptcy: safety and education. Families put Mom to work, used up the family’s economic reserves, and took on crushing debt loads in sacrifice to these twin gods, all in the hope of offering their children the best possible start in life.

The best possible start begins with good schools, but parents are scrambling to find those schools.


Everyone has heard the all-too-familiar news stories about kids who can’t read, gang violence in the schools, classrooms without textbooks, and drug dealers at the school doors.


So what does all this have to do with educating middle-class children, most of whom have been lucky enough to avoid the worst failings of the public school system? The answer is simple—money. Failing schools impose an enormous cost on those children who are forced to attend them, but they also inflict an enormous cost on those who don’t.

Jaye Green on "no stats all star"

[Shane] Battier is what business guys call a “white space” employee. The term refers to the space between boxes on an organizational chart. A white space employee is someone who does whatever it takes to achieve organizational goals and makes the organization work much better as a whole.

As we move into the era of value-added analysis for teacher merit pay, this article provides much food for thought. School leaders must consider carefully what they will reward, and give some consideration to how white space behavior is rewarded. Rewards should not just be based on individual learning gains- reaching school wide goals should also be strongly rewarded. Otherwise my incentive as a math teacher will be to assign six hours of math homework a night- and to hell with everyone else (see Iverson, Allen).

the no stats all star

For my money, "to hell with everyone else" is a better explanation of Paul Attewell's findings on math-science tracking in winner-take-all high schools (pdf file) than Attewell's assumption that wealthy schools deliberately privilege 10% of their student population at the expense of the other 90%.

School Board Transparency

I'm going to be reading this blog.


Excluding Home-Schoolers Benefits Nobody

a rose by any other name

renaming NCLB at eduwonk

I'm particularly keen on Amy:

How about the Hire Teachers Who Know A Goddamned Thing Or Two Besides Pedagogy and Hoopjumping Act (HTWKAGTOTWPHA)? No?

OK, how about the Cry As China Leaves Us In the Dust Act? (CACLUDS?)

Maybe the Remedial Bachelor’s Degree Act.

Or the Never Come Near My Child With A Calculator Again Act.

As the parent of a kindergartner, I’m more & more in favor of the Hand Over the Per-Cap Money to the Parents So We Can Educate Them Act. Yes, i know NCLB gets there eventually, but it takes too goddamned long.


Amy doesn't seem to have had much of a honeymoon period with the public schools, now, does she? It took me 7 years to reach the Hand Over the Per-Cap Money frame of mind.

Crimson Avenger has a good one, too.

decline at the top: how math departments in wealthy schools treat students

Ask any realtor: Prospective buyers with children compete for homes in neighborhoods where the public schools are top-notch, believing it will increase the youngsters' chances of admission to the best colleges.

A recent study, however, suggests that can actually put applicants at a disadvantage.

A paper published in the October issue of Sociology of Education finds that students at the 200 or so most elite public high schools face a tougher road getting into top colleges than do comparable students at other, less prestigious high schools.

To polish their school profiles, many "star" high schools have evolved systems of grooming only the top tier of their students for the most selective colleges, which handicaps all other students in the hot contest for college, author Paul Attewell contends.


Mr. Attewell offered two stories of students from "star" schools in Boston suburbs to illustrate the culling process.

One boy who wanted to take AP science and math in high school was told by math department faculty members that he wasn't suited to the work.

When his parents pointed out that he had scored in the top 1 percent on the Preliminary SAT, school officials responded that the boy was smart, but not smart enough, Mr. Attewell said.

The student ended up in the less advanced math track and went on to a good college, but not an Ivy League-caliber school as he had wished.

A girl from another school scored a perfect 800 on the math portion of the SAT, but received a C in math because the grading curve at her school was so high, Mr. Attewell said. She had A's in other subjects, but the C affected her class ranking and likely contributed to her failure to be admitted to her chosen college, he said.

Some Top Students Just Average At 'Star' Schools
By Catherine Gewertz
Vol. 21, Issue 10, Page 5

It's a myth that colleges "control" for tough grading in wealthy suburban schools.

They don't.

The Winner Take All High School

by Paul Attewell (pdf file)

Is it better to be a big fish in a little pond?

More on Attewell and Richard Elmore anon.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

K9Sasha's list

You asked about books I've used to educate myself. That's a harder question than it sounds. I've read a large variety of books, but I've also read articles, read websites, followed links, etc. I think what happens overall is that I pick up a little knowledge here, and a little knowledge there, without even quite realizing I've done it.

The places I've probably learned the most are:

* the training for using Wilson materials (Orton-Gillingham based)
* Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz
* books by Diane McGuinness
* The ABC's and All Their Tricks by Margaret Bishop
* anything written by Louisa Moats
* the Phonics Pathways website and newsletter
* and especially anything written by or suggested by Palisadesk. I'm in awe of her knowledge base.

As to that last item: me, too!

recommended reading from Palisadesk

Mary Damer's book (Reading Instruction for Children Who Are At-Risk or Have Disabilities; coauthor William Bursuck) is a recent addition to my favorites. I use it mostly as a reference, and loan it to colleagues because it has a lot of useful examples, sections on vocabulary, teaching language skills, etc. Lots of practical lesson exemplars, and a DVD showing how to teach beginning readers to blend sounds, segment words into constituent phonemes, etc. (Most teachers learned nothing about this in their training so many don't know how to do it -- the DVD is a great addition because a demo is more effective than a verbal description)

Some of my favorites from earlier on:

Specifically on the topic of reading and language skills:

Marilyn J. Adams, Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print

Nathlie Badian, ed. Prediction and Prevention of Reading Failure

Andrew Biemiller, Language and Reading Success

Margaret Bishop, The ABC's and All Their Tricks (great reference book)

Douglas Carnine, Jerry Silbert, Edward J. Kameenui, et alia, Teaching Strugglng and At-Risk Readers

Jeanne Chall, The Academic Achievement Challenge
--- The Reading Crisis
--- Learning to Read: The Great Debate
--- Stages of Reading Development

CORE Reading Research Anthology: The Why? of Reading Instruction (Arena Press, 2001)

Siegfried Engelmann, Teaching Disadvantaged Children in the Preschool
-- Preventing Failure in the Primary Grades
---Your Child Can Succeed

Rudolf Flesch, Why Johnny Can't Read and Why Johnny STILL Can't Read

Barbara Foorman (ed) Preventing and Remediating Reading Difficulties:Bringing Science to Scale

Irene Gaskins, Success With Struggling Readers: The Bnchmark School Approach

Susan Hall and Louisa Moats, Straight Talk About Reading
----- Parenting A Struggling Reader

(both are good books to loan to parents with valuable charts and tables and indicators of what to look for in an effective classroom, good books for kids at various stages, etc.)

Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis, Strategies That Work (for older readers Gr 4 and up)

Peggy McCardle and Vinita Chhabra, The Voice of Evidence in Reading Research

Elaine McEwan, Teach Them ALL to Read: Catching the Children Who Fall Throught the Cracks

Diane McGuinness, Why Our Children Can't Read

Bonnie McMillan, Why Schoolchildren Can't Read

Daniel J. Moran & Richard Malott (eds) Evidence-Based Educational Methods

Michael Pressley, Reading Instruction That Works

Louise Spear-Swerling and Robert Sternberg, Off Track: When Poor Readers Become "Learning Disabled"
-- Perspectives on Learning Disabilities

Deborah Simmons & Edward Kameenui (eds) What Reading Research Tells Us About Children with Diverse Learning Needs

Keith Stanovich, Progress in Understanding Reading

Sharon Vaughan and Silvia Linan-Thompson, Research-Based Methods of Reading Instruction, Grades K-3
(great resource for teachers just beginning to get a grip on effective reading instruction. Nice layout, lots of user-friendly activities and resources)

Sharon Walpole and Michael C. McKenna, The Literacy Coach's Handbook: A Guide to Research-Based Practice (focus is on effective teaching in K-3)

Arthur Whimbey, Mastering Reading Through Reasoning
--- Analytical Reading and Reasoning
--- Problem Solving and Comprehension

( techniques for good readers at middle school level and up)

Maryann Wolf (ed) Dyslexia, Fluency and the Brain

Maryann Wolf, Proust and the Squid

Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading

On effective instruction :

Wesley Becker and Siegfried Engelmann, Teaching: Evaluation of Instruction

Wesley Becker, Applied Psychology for Teachers

Grant Coulson, Ph.D. Power Teaching

Siegfried Engelmann, Teaching Needy Kids In Our Backward System

Siegfried Engelmann and Douglas Carnine, Theory of Instruction: Principles and Applications (warning: very difficult reading. Well written, but cognitively dense)

Norris Haring and Barbara Bateman, Teaching the Learning-Disabled Child
(significantly, the effective strategies outlined here work even better with average or gifted students -- good teaching is good teaching)

Kent Johnson and Elizabeth Street, The Morningside Model of Generative Instruction

Fred Jones, Positive Classroom Instruction

Michael Maloney, Teach Your Children Well

Stan Paine et alia, Structuring Your Classroom for Academic Success

Michael Pressley et alia, Motivating Primary Grade Students

Jerome Rossner, Helping Children Overcome Learning Difficulties

Beth Sulzer_Azaroff & G. Roy Mayer, Achieving Educational Excellence (1 & 2)

Owen R. White & Norris G. Haring, Exceptional Teaching


Roger Bass, Amy's Game: The Concealed Structure of Education

Robert C. Dixon, The Surefire Way to Better Spelling (for adults, from the author of Spelling Mastery. Some cool tips and many interesting insights into the language)

Kieran Egan, Getting It Wrong From the Beginning: Our Progressivist Inheritance from Herbert Spencer, John Dewey and Jean Piaget

-- The Educated Mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding

Arthur K. Ellis and Jeffrey Fouts, Research on Educational Innovations
(some trenchant analyses of Outcomes-Based Education, learning styles, "Whole Language," self-esteem programs, interdisciplinary learning, "brain based" education and so forth. On the other hand, co-operative learning, mastery learning, Direct Instruction and teaching for intelligence show consistent and positive empirical outcomes).

John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education

James F.Kavanagh The Language Continuum: From Infancy to Literacy

Philip Lieberman, Human Language and our Reptilian Brain: The Subcortical Bases of Speech, Syntax and Thought

John Mighton, The End of Ignorance: Multiplying Our Human Potential

Ernst Moerk, First Language Taught and Learned
--- The Guided Acquisition of First Language Skills

Cathy L. Watkins, Project Follow Through: A Case Study of Contingencies Influencing Instructional Practices of the Educational Establishment (brilliant analysis, and a must-read for anyone with serious interest in changing the "system")

Arthur Whimbey, Intelligence Can Be Taught
-- Why Johnny Can't Write

I'm sure I'm forgetting some important ones, but that's a start.

strong high school curriculum trumps SAT scores

The findings of this study demonstrated a consistent advantage experienced by students who completed rigorous high school curricula, and to a lesser extent by those completing mid-level curricula, over their peers completing core curricula or lower.

However, the level of high school curricula students reported completing also was related to their family background characteristics and indicators of socioeconomic status, including family income, parents’ education, race/ethnicity, and the economic status of their high school’s student body. All of these factors relate to whether or not students have the opportunities to participate in and complete rigorous curricula. Moreover, students’ success in staying in college was also related to where they first enrolled and how well they did in their first year. Yet, even when all these factors were taken into consideration, the advantage of completing a rigorous high school academic curriculum remained.

The same was not observed for levels of SAT scores. Similar to the findings for curriculum levels, SAT scores were related to persistence when first-year college GPA was not included in the regression. However, after GPA was added, high school curriculum remained a significant factor, but SAT scores did not. These findings are consistent with recent research based on high school transcripts for a cohort of 1980 high school sophomores (Adelman 1999); this study demonstrated that high school curriculum was a stronger predictor of bachelor’s degree attainment than standardized test scores or other measures of high school academic performance.

High School Academic Curriculum and and the Persistence Path Through College

That explains why college admissions officers tell parents they're looking for "challenging" courses on high school transcripts.

High school kids who've taken serious courses are more likely to make it through all 4 years of college.

Digest of Education Statistics

SAT scores of high school seniors by selected characteristics
SATs & ethnicity 2006
SATs & ethnicity 1994-2006
High School Academic Curriculum and Persistence Through College
List of 2006 Tables

please sign up - & "Phonics Mommy & Me"

The DI list carries a message saying that Reading First is not dead (yet). Behind the scenes people are lobbying to keep it alive, and they need to hear from us.

I've joined the National Association for Reading First and left this comment:
Thank you for putting together this organization.

Is there any chance the National Association for Reading First could help organize volunteer service clubs to teach reading to young children using SBRR curricula?

Given the fact that Barnes & Noble appears to be struggling financially, B&N management might be interested in exploring a partnership. B&N stores have space to teach children & would sell the curricular materials to participating parents, which would offset the costs involved in scheduling volunteers & classes (and perhaps produce a profit as parents make additional book purchases on class days). A B&N phonics-based early reading program would garner them good publicity & would substantially increase the number of U.S. children who grow up to be pleasure readers.

B&N wouldn't need to publicize such a program as a challenge to public schools. They could simply tap into the existing preschool market with a new concept: a Phonics Mommy and Me.

For B&N it would be a case of doing well by doing good.

scenes from the front: the "literacy" degree

from Anonymous:
The University of Northern Iowa offers a "literacy/reading minor" with endorsements for teaching K-8 as part of its Elementary Education degree.

Most public schools won't even consider a job candidate unless they have a literacy minor.

What's infuriating is that the literacy minor is worthless. It is nothing but taking a few extra "advanced" children's lit courses which amount to learning how to "read multiculturally". This is a euphamism for finding threadbare explanations for how rascism or classism can be found in (insert popular children's literature).

In the classes where we are supposed to learn how to "teach" reading, we're fed a program that consists of whole-language learning disguised in the rhetoric of "balanced-literacy". The funny thing is that none of the professors ever use the phrase "balanced-literacy".

Phonics isn't present anywhere in these teacher-ed programs other than extremely brief lip service paid to it in "Methods of Early Literacy" classes. There is no information on how to effectively implement a phonics program for struggling readers (much less all students).

As a 30 year old 2nd BA student who has returned to college to obtain a teaching degree/licensure I am disappointed by the lack of any real education that I'm receiving in my teacher-ed program. It's too much theory and pedagogy and not enough "here's what to teach and the best to teach it".

It has gotten to the point that I am simply going through the motions to get through the classes required for my degree and licensure. I don't expect to learn anything at all in my ed classes and instead spend time outside of class educating myself on how to be a teacher (by pouring through various phonics programs and other instructional methods).

It is sad that what used to be called "Iowa State Teachers College" is no longer turning out anything resembling a teacher.

from K9Sasha:
It has gotten to the point that I am simply going through the motions to get through the classes required for my degree and licensure. I don't expect to learn anything at all in my ed classes and instead spend time outside of class education myself on how to be a teacher (by pouring through various phonics programs and other instructional methods).

It's been the same for me. Even when I got my elementary teaching credential, some 20 years ago, the classes were "mickey mouse." When I recently got my reading endorsement, I was disgusted at having to pay to "learn" useless information. I refuse to drink the cool aid. Like you, I spent, and spend, a lot of time on my own learning how to teach effectively, especially how to teach reading to struggling students.

The NCTQ report on ed schools and the science of reading is here. (pdf file)