Proxy Battles: The Value of Handshakes at the Door

Should teachers welcome students to the classroom with elaborate individual handshakes? Or — in these COVIDian days of ours — with elaborate dances? (If you’re on Twitter, you can check out @thedopeeducator’s post from March 17 of 2021 for an



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The 10-Minute Rule: Is The Lecture Dead?

The “10-minute rule” offers teachers practical guidance. It typically sounds something like this: If students aren’t intrinsically interested in material, they can pay attention to it for no more than 10 minutes. Ergo: teachers should do something different every ten



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To Grade or Not to Grade: Should Retrieval Practice Quizzes Be Scored?

We’ve seen enough research on retrieval practice to know: it rocks. When students simply review material (review their notes; reread the chapter), that mental work doesn’t help them learn. However, when they try to remember (quiz themselves, use flashcards), this kind



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What (and Why) Should Students Memorize? Confidence and Fluency for the Win

In our profession, memorization has gotten a bad name. The word conjures up alarming images: Dickensian brutes wielding rulers, insisting on “facts, facts, facts!” In a world when students “can look up anything on the interwebs,” why do we ask students



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Prior Knowledge: Building the Right Floor [Updated]

Researchers can demonstrate that some core knowledge is essential for students to start learning about a topic. Teachers can use that guidance to improve learning for all students. Continue reading



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Assembling the Big Classroom Picture

The last 20 years have brought about powerful new ways to think about teaching and learning. When teachers combine our experience, professional traditions, and instincts with the scientific insights of psychology and neuroscience research, we find new ways to understand



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Retrieval Practice and Metacognition: What and How Do Students Think about This Powerful Learning Strategy?

Ask almost anyone in Learning and the Brain world, they’ll tell you: retrieval practice benefits students. More than most any other technique we have, this one both has lots of research support and can easily be integrated into our classrooms. (For a handy review



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“Kids These Days!”: A (Partial) Defense of Ignorance and Distractibility

You’ve seen the videos. An earnest reporter wielding a microphone accosts a college student and asks extremely basic questions: “What are the three branches of government?” “What is the capital of France?” “Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?” When students



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When Evidence Conflicts with Teachers’ Experience

Here’s an interesting question: do students — on average — benefit when they repeat a grade? As you contemplate that question, you might notice the kind of evidence that you thought about. Perhaps you thought: “I studied this question in graduate school.



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“Soft” vs. “Hard” Skills: Which Create a Stronger Foundation?

As teachers, should we focus on our students’ understanding of course content, or on our students’ development of foundational academic skills? Do they benefit more from learning history (or chemistry or spelling or flute), or from developing the self-discipline (grit,



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