Thinking About Education

I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think. ~Socrates

I. A. Richards and Reading Diagnosis

  Reading teachers, diagnosticians, interventionists, tutors, and all readers interested in honing reading skills might appreciate reading (or re-reading) the classic work Practical Criticism by I. A. Richards—at least the part where he explains the principal difficulties of readers. His list deals specifically with reading poetry, and the difficulties his students have with critiquing poetry, but I think the same difficulties can occur in other types of reading as well. Interestingly, his book was.. Read More

Opening our Eyes, Ears, and Minds to Reading

  Students who struggle with reading, or perhaps anything, do so for different reasons. The most rewarding and interesting part of my graduate work in literacy was learning how to diagnose and then design appropriate lessons for individual students who struggled with reading or writing and find ways to solve their problems or at least get around them. As a core classroom teacher, there is little time to delve so deeply into individual.. Read More

First Do No Harm: The Damage of Low Expectations

I had a student once, let’s call her Leah.  She was a transfer during the first few weeks of school. We were alerted that she had some “problems.” I always begin the year with a study of word stems, and expect students to learn certain common roots, prefixes, and suffixes because then they have a base for understanding thousands of words. They memorize 10 or 15 at a time—a list like this one:.. Read More

Fixing Only What is Broken, a.k.a. Data-Driven Education

Recently, I asked my friend, a physicist who likes fixing things, if he thought he might be able to repair my washing machine.  He embraced the challenge and began taking it apart to see what was wrong. Methodically, he disassembled each layer: control panel, back, wiring, motor. I confess was a little concerned as I hardly recognized my machine and was not confident that all the pieces could be put back exactly as.. Read More

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