Choosing a Knowledge-Rich Curriculum: Pros and Cons

Should our curriculum focus on knowledge or skills? Jon Brunskill debates this question with himself in this thoughtful post. Brunskill does offer a strong conclusion in this debate. But just as important: the way he frames the discussion. Following Rapoport’s Rules

adolescent brain

Surprise: The Adolescent Brain Isn’t Broken

Chapter 2 of Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain kicks off with a teenager’s diary entry from April of 1969: I went to arts centre (by myself!) in yellow cords and blouse. Ian was there but he

retrieval practice limitations

The Limits of Retrieval Practice, Take II…

Just two weeks ago, I posted about a study showing potential boundary conditions for retrieval practice: one of the most robustly supported classroom strategies for enhancing long-term memories. As luck would have it, the authors of that study wrote up their


This Is Your Amygdala on a Cliff…

If you’ve seen the documentary Free Solo, you know about Alex Honnold’s extraordinary attempt to climb a 3000 foot sheer rock face. Without ropes. Without protective gear of any kind. And without, it seems, a typically functioning amygdala. Free Solo briefly

handwritten notes

Ask a Simple Question, Get an Oversimplified Answer

Handwritten notes might help students who review them, but laptop notes seem to help those who don’t. In brief: even simple questions have complex answers. Continue reading

math teaching

Evaluating the Best Classroom Practices for Teaching Math

Analyzing TIMSS data, researchers draw tentative conclusions about math teaching: memorizing formulas & hearing lectures vs. applying math to “real life.” Continue reading

media multitasking

Does Media Multitasking Really Interfere with Student Thinking?

To many teachers, it just seems obvious: all that screen times MUST be bad for student brains. To many other teachers, it just seems obvious: technology will unleash academic possibilities and revolutionize education. So, which is it? Does media multitasking

Avoiding Extremes: Common Sense in the Middle

Teachers feel passionate about our work. As a result, we can advocate exuberantly — occasionally too exuberantly? — for a particular position. Advocates for (or against) Social-Emotional Learning can make zealous claims for their beliefs. Same for PBL, or direct

The Limits of Retrieval Practice: A Helpful Case Study

Here on the blog, I write A LOT about the benefits of “retrieval practice.” (For example: here and here.) In brief: our students often review by trying to put information into their brains. That is: they “go over” the material. However,

Life Without Memory: Your Hippocampus and You

Who are you without your memory? In neurobiological lingo: who are you without your hippocampus? The Best-Known Answer No doubt you’ve heard of Henry Molaison, aka H. M., whose hippocampi were removed in order to cure debilitating epilepsy. The good