Tag Archives: classroom advice

A chess board seen from an angle, with red arrows showing how pieces might move in different combinations

Should Teachers Explain or Demonstrate?

If I were a chess teacher, I would want my newbies to understand … … how a bishop moves, … how castling works, … what checkmate means. To help them understand, I could… … show them (“see how this piece

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Book Cover for Adam Boxer's Teaching Secondary Science: A copmlete guide.

Book Review: Teaching Secondary Science, by Adam Boxer

Let’s start by making this simple: First: You should absolutely buy Adam Boxer’s Teaching Secondary Science: A Complete Guide. Sooner is better than later. Second: You will probably not READ Boxer’s book so much as you will STUDY it. Have a

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Little boy blowing golf ball into hole.

Is Teaching Golf Like Teaching Algebra?

My work in this field starts with a simple logical argument: A: Learning happens in the brain and the mind. B: Therefore, teachers might benefit from knowing more about the brain and the mind. C: Therefore, we should hang out

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Woman holding up mobile phono to take photo of speaker and slides

You Should Not (or Should) Let Your Students Take Pictures of Slides

Back in October, I wrote a blog post about a surprise: it turns out that students REMEMBER STUFF BETTER when they take photos of lecture slides. For several reasons — including common sense — I would have predicted the opposite.

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Two students in conversation

Think, Pair, Share: Does It Help? If Yes, Why?

On some days, I find myself drawn to esoteric research studies. A few months ago, for example, I wrote about the effect of earworms on sleep. (Yes, scholars really do research earworms.) Today, I’ve found as straightforwardly practical a study

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portrait of father teaching daughter how to read by using simple words and letters on a flash card at home

Practical Advice for Students: How to Make Good Flashcards

Flashcards feel to me like a research sweet-spot. In the first place: for the most part, students believe that they help — and are even willing to make them! In the second place: flashcards should help. After all, flashcards promote

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Two baby goats, one brown and white, theo other black and white, frolicking in a field.

“Seductive Details” meet “Retrieval Practice”: A Match Made in Cognitive Heaven

Here’s a common problem: your job today is to teach a boring topic. (You don’t think it’s boring, but your students always complain…) What’s a teacher to do? One plausible strategy: You might enliven this topic in some entertaining way. You’ve

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Hispanic student wearing a blue shirt raising his hand to ask a question in class

Starting Class with “Prequestions”: Benefits, Problems, Solutions

We’ve known for many years now that retrieval practice works. That is: after we have introduced students to a topic, we might REVIEW it with them the next day. However, they’ll remember it better if we ask them to try to

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Book Cover for The Hidden Lives of Learners by Graham Nuthall. The cover shows a mountain range in front of a blue and cloudy sky.

The Hidden Lives of Learners

Many times over the last several years, I’ve heard enthusiastic reviews of a seemingly-magical book called The Hidden Lives of Learners, by Graham Nuthall. Here’s the magic: Nuthall’s frankly astonishing research method. Working in New Zealand classrooms in the 1980s, he

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Student Holding Clock

The Most Important 5 Minutes in Class: The Primacy/Recency Effect

As we put our lesson plans together, we teachers want to know: are some minutes more valuable than others? That is: Do students remember most at the 10-minute mark of the lesson, because they’re mentally revved up? Or, perhaps they

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