Wow, she is an energetic and passionate woman – and she’s primarily passionate about kids learning how to read. I could not have enjoyed her session more. Here are some key take-aways, in no particular order …
Most people are unconsciously competent, but they need to be consciously competent. (Of course, we don’t want to be unconsciously incompetent!)
Four key things in education:
Meta-cognition, differentiation (DI), professional learning communities, and scaffolding.
Differentiation in kids: if you let the kids sit where they want at the beginning of the school year, they’ll show you how well they’ll do. First row: keeners; middle section: middle achievers, underachievers; back row: at risk kids.
“When the horse dies, get off!!!”
Two critical things when introducing new units:
Vocabulary and prior knowledge. Use introduction guides!
All kids love to argue – get them to argue about content by creating introduction guides with controversial statements, some of which are true and some of which are not.
For group work, put kids in pairs, not triads. Everyone will have to pull their own weight.
Education standards say WHAT, not HOW.
Kids live in the NOW.
We learn in odd numbers, not even.
Cross-curricular skills are important (e.g. inference: in English, prediction; in Math, estimation; in Science, hypothesis)
K-3 is learning to read; 4-12 is reading to learn.
The 5 elements of reading:
Phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, fluency
Vocabulary is different in different circumstances … the size goes down through listening, reading, speaking, and writing
Help kids develop fluency by reading aloud from the textbook for 5 minutes each day.
It really wasn’t as disjointed as this laundry list of things … but it was a rapid-fire session. These are just the things that stood out for me, and I wanted to record.
Chris Colwell is a deputy superintendent at Volusia County schools in Florida, which includes the Daytona beach area. He’s also a soft-spoken hero in the struggle to make American education relevant, rigorous, and effective. I recently attended his session at ASCD in New Orleans.
Some of the key take-aways from his talk:
Struggling kids? “Acceleration is the best form of remediation.”
“Forget about assessments and high stakes tests. Teach to the standards.”
District leadership needs to be clear, consistent, have high expectations, be ruthlessly prioritized, and provide support, support, support.
Volusia County has created a very deliberate approach to instructional design. They begin with the education standards – the state standards. Then they’ve designed the assessment that would measure performance on those standards. Then, and only then, do they create the lessons that would teach what students need to know in order to perform well on the assessments. They find that this saves a ton of instructional time, because teachers tend to teach their favorite topics, which may or may not correspond with standards and what kids actually need to know. They focus on the critical, not the peripheral. The College Board has helped them create this curriculum.
Volusia also uses a lot of formative assessment – checking during learning that kids are learning what they’re supposed to be learning. This prepares students well for the summative assessment … which often comes in the form of standardized high-stakes tests.
They pay for all kids in grades 8-10 to take the PSAT, they have vastly increased participation in AP (advanced placement) courses, and they are big believers in AVID.
A week ago or so I had the privilege of hearing Alama Powell speak at the ASCD conference in New Orleans.
She leads the America’s Promise Alliance, which is built on the research-supported premise that 5 things in kids lives make the difference between successful transition to adulthood, and various forms of failure. Those 5 things are:
A healthy start
Opportunities to help others
She listed some startling statistics:
there are 7000 kids dropping out of school each day in the US
there are 9 million kids without health insurance
kids who lack 3 of the 5 promises have twice the poverty rate and 8 times the incarceration rate versus kids who have all 5
She was a great speaker, and is a passionate woman – it was very enjoyable to hear her. She also happens to be the wife of Colin Powell