Tag Archives: classroom advice

Making “Learning Objectives” Explicit: A Skeptic Converted?

Teachers have long gotten guidance that we should make our learning objectives explicit to our students. The formula goes something like this: “By the end of the lesson, you will be able to [know and do these several things].” I’ve

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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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“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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Seriously: What Motivates Teachers to Be Funny?

To start 2021 in the right spirit, let’s think about humor in the classroom. It seems that, obviously, humor might be a good classroom strategy. When the lesson slows down, a joke or two might brighten the mood. Once we

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The Best Teaching Advice We’ve Got

You want to improve your teaching with psychology research? We’ve got good news, and bad news. And more good news. Good News: we have lots and LOTS of research. We can talk about attention, or working memory, or the spacing

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“But How Do We Know If It Works in the Classroom?”: The Latest on Retrieval Practice

We’ve heard so much about retrieval practice in the last two years that it seems like we’ve ALWAYS known about its merits. But no: this research pool hasn’t been widely known among teachers until recently. We can thank Agarwal and

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