My classroom changed about two years ago. The way I thought about educating my students and how I wanted to educate myself further took a massive turn on twitter in September of 2016…more on that later. In the past two years, I have become a much more fervent, yet skeptical, consumer of information with respect to my profession and the classroom. I’ve progressed from being a teacher whose only interaction with professional development occurred if it was mandated by my administration to an educator who cannot seem to devour enough journal articles, books, blogs, edchats (sometimes begrudgingly), et cetera. I love talking about the profession. I love the technical aspects of a lesson. I love the students.
I’m writing this post to show a bit of appreciation for major writings, organizations, and people who have impacted my improved resolve as a teacher and, in doing so, have positively impacted the lives of my students. I am forever indebted.
I would be remiss in my show of gratitude if I did not start with The Learning Scientists; particularly Dr. Yana Weinstein. No person has more influenced my growth in the classroom more than Dr. Weinstein. It all started about two years ago with a tweet to @AceThatTest (Dr. Weinstein runs the account) about a blog article they’d posted. We tweeted back and forth a few times and, before the conversation was over, I had a guest blog article to write that would be posted on their website a couple of months later…my first blog post ever. I had the bug for researching and writing immediately. Since that first guest blog post, I’ve written a few more times for The Learning Scientists, started my own blog, and have written for several other education outlets across the globe. Along the way, Dr. Weinstein has been a massive ally as I write to her with questions about research and writing. But it all started with a friendly academic/scientist/professor/researcher on twitter being kind to a high school teacher in Alabama. I would not be discussing writing a book with a publisher or have speaking engagements at national conferences or meetings at the U. S. Department of Education without the opportunities afforded to me by Dr. Weinstein. So…thank you, Yana. This is all your fault. 🙂
Another group of people who have been more than kind over the past couple of years are Eric Kalenze, Tom Bennett, and the whole researchED crew. As I began digging for others who believed in my new-found focus on the use of evidence to guide my classroom, I luckily stumbled upon these good people. They provided a plethora of resources and discussion that have certainly helped me to further my knowledge. If you’re looking for a conference that focuses on actually improving learning in the classroom and not just the next cool fad, then researchED is your conference. They’ve even been kind enough to allow me to speak at a researchED U. S. conference and I plan on speaking at the next one in Philadelphia in October. See you there. 🙂
Below I’ve listed readings that, I believe, are indispensable. They have impacted my classroom in a quite positive way. I am more focused as a teacher and my classroom/instruction is much more efficient. What I really appreciate about the first five writings is their accessibility. While the subject matter is incredibly important and somewhat technical, the authors wrote in a manner creating an easily understood guide or manual for teachers and students. If you have not accessed these readings, I implore you to do so. Implementation of the strategies and tips provided will create a more effective classroom for learning. The information provided in all of the resources are not fads…there’s nothing to buy and the sole focus is on using what we know about how we learn to best reach those we teach. Simple. Efficient. Effective.
- Principles of Instruction: Research Based Strategies That All Teachers Should Know – Barak Rosenshine
I have seen Rosenshine’s “Principles of Instruction” called the ultimate reading for the classroom…tough to argue with. So much good here. If you’re only going to read one, go with this one. Don’t be surprised, though, if you read “Principles of Instruction” and you are led to read more…and more…and more.
So accessible and written in a way that allows teachers and students alike the ability to implement the strategies and tips immediately. Again, no gimmicks here…just sound strategies to most efficiently improve learning.
- Optimizing Learning in College: Tips from Cognitive Psychology – Adam Putnam, Victor Sungkhasettee, and Henry Roediger III
I have a review/summarization of this article on my blog. While it is written for the college student, the strategies and tips provided could easily be implemented much earlier. This is also a great introduction for students and teachers who want to practice reading a technical journal article. Don’t let the ‘journal article’ scare you though, it is still very approachable.
- The Science of Learning – Deans for Impact
“The Science of Learning” summarizes research from cognitive science and provides practical information for implementation in the classroom. Deans for Impact does a wonderful job of making the research much more understandable. There’s a real disconnect between the research on learning and the implications of this research in the classroom. Deans for Impact does a great job of closing that gap. Their website if full of very useful information for the classroom teacher.
- Learn to Study Using…Six Learning Strategies – Megan Smith and Yana Weinstein
This is where it all started for me. No one does a better job of making research on the science of learning more accessible than The Learning Scientists; invaluable information for making the classroom more effective and efficient.
- Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning – Peter Brown, Henry Roediger III, and Mark McDaniel
Make It Stick is very often called THE book on the science of learning. If you’re looking to dive a little deeper, I highly recommend it. Wonderfully written and, although it is a full text, still a good place to start with the science of learning.
This is the part of the blog post where I say that I’ve left out many amazing readings, organizations, and people who have positively impacted my teaching…and it’s true. I interact every single day with wonderful people on twitter/via email and I cannot keep up with my to-be-read stack of books. It would be nearly impossible to thank you all individually.
I guess I’ll end this post with a warning: Once you ‘see the light’, you’ll probably find you cannot get enough. You want to know more. You want to know better ways to implement strategies and one article will lead to a blog post, which will lead to three more articles…it can become overwhelming. Stay focused and appreciate the expedition of improving your classroom. Don’t get caught up in the rat race of trying to know it all immediately. It is a long journey and as long as improvement is the goal and evidence is your guide, you are well on your way.
What reading/people/organizations have I missed?
How are you using the science of learning in your classroom?