ESSENTIALS:  WHAT is required to improve learning?

October 31, 2023, C-WORTHY CORPORATION

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Source-book: Schmoker, M. (2011) Focus: Evaluating the Essentials To Improve Student Learning Radically. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

I observe that Schmoker and his experts seldom SHOW HOW to improve student learning radically. The author and experts often TELL us WHAT is required.

The argument remains: WHAT is required is primarily common sense, but HOW is often unknown and radical. Identify the rationale behind WHAT; one may accomplish everything the text FOCUS and its author intends. Hard work and effort is only one good reason HOW one learns.

The actual curriculum an average child learns, in the same course and the same school, varies tremendously from teacher to teacher; what you learn depends on what teacher you have.

(Schmoker, p. 13, 2011) That is not true with whole-brain teaching and learning!

Mike Schmoker’s favorite experts:

David Conley (p. 38) “These “standards for success,” or (as they are alternately referred to) “habits of mind,” operate as both thinking and literacy skills for all disciplines.” The author’s intuition is robust and available. At no time does he SHOW how to develop “habits of the mind.”

Madelin Hunter (p. 57): “Once clarified, the lesson should always begin with an “anticipatory set”- some attempt to create interest or curiosity in the topic by providing background or by asking a provocative question.” Again, the author’s intuition is robust and available. Similar to Conley, at no time does she SHOW how to develop an “anticipatory set.”

Marilyn Burns (p. 58) “Successful lessons, she writes, must be taught in planned steps in which the teacher models learning and thinks aloud, followed by opportunities for students to practice.” The author’s intuition is powerful and available. Like Conley and Hunter, she does not SHOW the planned steps the teacher models.

For the three experts, nothing in their influential intuition SHOWS how to develop “habits of mind” – “anticipatory set” and “planned steps the teacher models”?

habits of mind” SHOW HOW TO?

anticipatory set” SHOW HOW TO?

planned steps the teacher models.” SHOW HOW TO?

In response to Marilyn Burns: “But note Dylan Wiliam’s (2007) happy calculation that if we merely implemented the elements of effective lessons routinely, the United States would move up into the top five in international rankings in math” (p. 58).

Use this example to comprehend receptor implicit memory. Fill in the blank. Conley’s intuition was correct without examples.

Romeo and ________________

Macaroni and _______________

Sugar and _________________

Trick or ____________________

Night and __________________

Salt and ___________________

Pins and ___________________

Sweet n’ ___________________

All your answers are examples of ‘habits of the mind.”

 Your answers were below the level of awareness and procedural. You used no system to arrive at your solutions. You quickly retrieved stored implicit memory from somewhere in the cerebral cortex.  Adding and engaging explicit short-term working memory (WM) tends to usher in synaptic change. Learning is all about altering brain chemicals for meaning. The motor cortex works the same way.

Hunter’s intuition is correct. An “anticipatory set” is the SHOW missing in the accepted educational 100% TELL standards.

These well-known “anticipatory sets” hold the same popularity today as when they originated.

16th Century – 1530  BINGO

Around 1600 – 1700  BLACKJACK


1964    JEOPARDY

All three experts are accurate without showing us how to develop their ideas. They all touched on neuroscience without realizing or showing us how to create the principles of how the brain learns. Tipping point!

The brain is SLOW, LOOPY, and continually CURIOUS.

Schmoker (p. 59),  discussing Robert Marzano, crediting Madeline Hunter’s influence, “Between chunks–at strategic stopping points during the lesson—the effective teacher gathers feedback on learning and processes it immediately; this same-day information determines how much additional explanation is needed in the next step of the lesson.”

Schmoker adds, But for all their value, these components are not routine at all. As Marzano notes, “Teachers tend not to design and implement “ these simple features into their lessons” even though the resources and materials are readily available. (pp. 59-60).

I trust these findings cause the reader to wonder why teachers omit these components. Future Blog Posts will attempt to SHOW how to accomplish the tasks.