“Best Practice” — The Enemy of Better Teaching

flickr photo by blueraine_tigerseye http://flickr.com/photos/64182868@N00/406298362 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

flickr photo by blueraine_tigerseye http://flickr.com/photos/64182868@N00/406298362 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Educators banter the phrase “best practice” around easily.  But what if the focus on mimicking the so-called ‘best’ isn’t the most effective way for educators to improve?

Bradley A. Ermeling, James Hiebert and Ronald Gallimore wrote a thought-provoking piece in which they argue just that.

“Research and practical experience suggest that focusing on continual improvement of teaching is more effective than imitating best practices.”

“The term best practice is widely used in education by practitioners,researchers, politicians, and product advocates. “We believe in using best practices.” “Our teachers need more access to best practices.” “Our product is based on best practices.” These claims sound good, except there’s no consensus on what practices are “best.” Determining what qualifies a practice as best is no simple matter. 

Best suggests a definitive superiority to alternative practices; it’s a label based more on an appeal to authority than on research. As an iterative process of ongoing exploration and testing, research avoids definitive statements like “best practices.” Researchers treat skeptically the claim that a practice is broadly and generally the best because results of scientific studies are seldom so clear cut. At the very least, a claim of best practice needs to include caveats and a detailed accounting of the circumstances in which it was—and wasn’t—effective.” Read the entire article here.



3 Strategies To Integrate Technology Into Any Lesson via TeachThought

flickr photo by flickingerbrad http://flickr.com/photos/56155476@N08/12601914845 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

“3 Strategies To Integrate Technology Into Any Lesson

by Sandra L. Love, Ed.D., mentoringminds.com.

In today’s classroom, we have moved beyond teaching reading, writing and mathematics through rote memorization.

We must push students to dig deeper and ask clear, thoughtful questions so they build the critical thinking skills essential for success in school, college and life. Technology has played a huge role in the development of the modern classroom, progressing from something that’s “cool” or “different” to a key piece of the critical thinking puzzle.

While technology is an important part of the education equation, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Teachers play a bigger role than ever in developing an engaging well-rounded curriculum, though integrating technology into the mix presents its own unique set of challenges. Many teachers have been reluctant to replace their print materials due to cost and dissatisfaction with the available digital options. According to the MDR 2014 State of the K–12 Market Report, there’s a growing demand for solutions that improve teaching and personalized learning and educators are willing to consider new instructional models.

So, how do we build an engaging curriculum based on the components of critical thinking, while incorporating technology into the mix – without sacrificing the basics? Here are a few simple tips to integrate technology into almost any lesson.

3 Strategies To Integrate Technology Into Any Lesson

1. Think Visual–Or Help Students To Do So 

There is a wealth of free programs that allow students to incorporate visuals into their class work.

For example, programs like Easel.ly can be used to create infographics to enhance history papers or scientific experiments. Animoto, a video program that turns your pictures into video, can be used to create book reviews or book trailers, which can transform an ordinary book report, essay, math project, or art portfolio pice into a fun and engaging multimedia experience. Technology is nothing is not visual.

2. Blog All About It–Before, During, & After Learning

Journaling is a classic critical thinking instructional strategy that helps students independently deliberate on a teacher-prompted topic.”

Read the entire post here.

8 Minutes ~ Strategies for Connection & Student Engagement

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by Edgar Barany: http://flickr.com/photos/edgarbarany/3248630063

English teacher Brian Sztabnik wrote an Excellent Edutopia piece on ways to engage students at the beginning and end of classes.

Eight minutes that matter most and eight ways to make them great:

“If we fail to engage students at the start, we may never get them back. If we don’t know the end result, we risk moving haphazardly from one activity to the next. Every moment in a lesson plan should tell.

The eight minutes that matter most are the beginning and endings. If a lesson does not start off strong by activating prior knowledge, creating anticipation, or establishing goals, student interest wanes, and you have to do some heavy lifting to get them back. If it fails to check for understanding, you will never know if the lesson’s goal was attained.” Read the entire piece here.