As you may recall, I am reading Penny Kittle’s Write Beside Them as part of a professional development project along with several other teachers this summer. I am very excited about this project. Using my experience with the UbD Educators’ wiki coupled with this upcoming experience, I plan to present a session at the next GISA convention in November on using blogs and wikis for professional development. It is not too late to join us in reading Write Beside Them. Just come on over to the wiki and follow the instructions Lisa Huff provided.
I encouraged visitors to order their copies of Write Beside Them from Amazon because the book qualifies for free shipping, which would save buyers about $8. However, after two weeks with no word on when the book would ship or even when Amazon would consider a book that was released on May 1 as “released” (the button still says “preorder”), I decided that if I wanted to be sure of receiving my book before the reading begins, I had better cancel my order with Amazon and order the book directly from Heinemann, which is what I did just yesterday. I will let you all know when I receive the book so you can decide whether you need to do the same thing (links to Heinemann’s product information for the book are provided above). Amazon is generally really good about orders, and I don’t really think this problem is their fault. I suspect it might be Heinemann’s. I can’t recall the particulars, but I seem to remember having trouble ordering new Heinemann titles from Amazon before. I don’t know what the reason for the delay is, so I won’t speculate.
I read Classroom Instruction that Works by Robert J. Marzano, Debra J. Pickering, and Jane E. Pollock for an online professional learning course, and I’m very glad I did. The book discusses research-based strategies teachers can use to increase student understanding and achievement. It fits well with Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s Understanding by Design.
The authors’ position is that teaching is a science, although it is frequently thought of as an art. I like this position because when we think of teaching as an art, we are more likely to believe a teacher either has it or s/he doesn’t. The Faculty Room examined this question some time back, and I wish I had read this book before I posted my response to the question. I was already of the opinion that good teachers can be made, but if I had read this book, I might have had more armor for my argument.
Classroom Instruction that Works discusses nine teaching strategies:
- Identifying similarities and differences
- Summarizing and note-taking
- Reinforcing effort and providing recognition
- Homework and practice
- Nonlinguistic representations
- Cooperative learning
- Setting objectives and providing feedback
- Generating and testing hypotheses
- Questions, cues, and advance organizers
One teaching practice I questioned as a result of reading this book is the way I check homework. Research has shown that timely feedback on homework is important; however, the way I generally check homework is through reading quizzes and notebook checks. I also need to do more direct instruction in note-taking and summarizing. UbD has been great for helping me set objectives and generate and tests hypotheses.
Many teachers reading this book will feel vindicated by the research presented, but it think it will make all of us, whether we are new teachers or seasoned veterans, look seriously at our practice.