Tag Archives: Ellin Keene

Ellin Keene Reflects on Mosaic of Thought’s 20th Anniversary with Tom Newkirk

Tom Newkirk interviews Ellin Keene part 1Mosaic of Thought, by Ellin Keene and Susan Zimmermann, became a runaway best-seller as the first book to explicitly describe the use and benefits of strategy-based comprehension instruction. To recognize the 20th anniversary of the book, Tom Newkirk, who served as editor, recently sat down with Ellin Keene to revisit how Mosaic of Thought came to be and the impact it had on education.

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The Arc of Motivation

NNTBT_NoMoreReading4Junk_1There will always be students who struggle with motivation to read. In No More Reading for Junk, Barbara Marinak and Linda Gambrell show that motivation is central to reading development. If students are not motivated to read, then they will not reach their full literacy potential. The authors provide research-based context for fostering reading motivation in children, and share strategies and techniques that are proven to transform students into passionate, lifelong readers.

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What Does the Research Say about Lecture-Only Teaching?

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Adapted from No More Telling as Teaching: Less Lecture, More Engaged Learning by Cris Tovani and Elizabeth Birr Moje.

Why should we care about whether teachers rely on lecture? People have lectured throughout history, and many teachers claim this is the most efficient way to cover content. And, in fact, in and of itself the lecture is not a bad method for sharing information, ideas, or perspectives. Many people share their thoughts with others through lectures.

Because learners can participate in well-framed and well-structured lectures for which they have a clear sense of purpose, it is not the lecture that we challenge but rather a conception of learning that makes the teacher the knowledge disseminator and the students receptacles waiting to be filled. Specifically, we challenge the steady diet of teachers and textbooks (or other media) telling, with students regurgitating what they have been told.

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Heinemann Fellow Kate Flowers on Working Toward “Do No Harm” Feedback

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Like many English teachers, grading essays remains the part of my job that I enjoy the least. It isn’t just because of the time it consumes or the drudgery it involves. It’s because I’m afraid I’m going to do harm to a student writer under my care.

Years ago, my oldest son was in my sophomore honors English class filled with many of his friends. These were kids I had watched grow up since the second grade, kids who spent time at my house, played in my backyard, making crazy zombie movies that disturbed the neighbors, and now traveled with us to debate tournaments early on Saturday mornings. Perhaps because of my long connection to this group of kids, I put extra effort into grading these students’ essays, spending many Saturdays marking errors and giving copious feedback while I waited to judge rounds at debate tournaments. I knocked myself out for these kids.

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The Discourse Against Homework: Concerns and Solutions

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Homework. The word alone evokes strong emotions from children, youth, parents, and teachers. For most teachers, this word sits right between rock and hard place. Assign too much homework, and teachers run the risk of complaints, if not outright misery, from parents, students, and—feeling the need to give feedback on all that homework—themselves. Assign too little homework, and teachers risk being seen as “soft” and lacking in rigor, and because homework can feel like it helps “cover” the curriculum, feeling further behind. And that just regards the issue of how much homework. Then there are all the complexities around what kinds of homework.

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The Big 5: Vicki Vinton on the Books That Pushed and Influenced Her Teaching Practice

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Every so often we like to ask our authors about the books that most affected their teaching, the books that served as turning points in their practice or opened their eyes to a new way of approaching their work, thinking about education, or seeing children. In this installment, we bring you the professional book top five of Vicki Vinton, a literacy consultant and writer who has worked in schools and districts across the country and around the world.  She is the coauthor of What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Meaning Making and The Power of Grammar: Unconventional Approaches to the Conventions of Language, and most recently is the author of Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading: Shifting to a Problem-Based Approach. You can also find Vicki online, at the popular literacy blog To Make a Prairie


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