Life Is a High-Stakes Reading Test

Life is a high-stakes reading test. Those who pass gain entry to the best humanity has to offer—great literature, active and effective citizenship, fascinating dinner debates, meaningful connections with people across time and space, jobs that are both interesting and high paying, genuine capacity for self-directed learning, etc. The key to passing is broad knowledge….

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Tapas-Style Curriculum

Education Week noted recently that there’s an increasing demand for bites of curriculum, as opposed to coherent programs: Instead of selecting one comprehensive program, “districts are asking to … mix and match with selections from other content providers, material that teachers and students have created, and open educational resources.” That’s awesome—and a disaster. It’s awesome…

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DC: Embarking on a Knowledge Revolution

Over the past few years, an increasing number of DC schools have been revamping their curricula to teach dramatically more knowledge. Frustrated by low reading scores and nudged by the Common Core standards’ explicit call for building knowledge across subjects, they’re now convinced that broad knowledge—not hour after hour of practicing comprehension strategies—is the key…

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Districts Could Do More for the Most Vulnerable Students

In my last post I highlighted two districts that are equalizing opportunity to learn and increasing teacher collaboration through districtwide curriculum and assessments. Across schools, the same knowledge and skills are being taught, and the same expectations are being met. Imagine what it would be like to have to transfer schools mid-year in one of…

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Collaborating on Curriculum and Assessment: Two Districts Lead the Way

“Educators and policymakers must avoid the trap of limiting their discussions to questions which the existing data can readily answer, a practice reminiscent of the old joke about looking for lost car keys under the streetlight because that is where the searcher can see, not where the keys were lost.” Chrys Dougherty, a principal research…

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Knowledge Equalizer: Jeff Litt

In my last post, I called for knowledge equality. My hope is all educators and concerned citizens—and policymakers with counter-productive, curriculum-narrowing mandates—will see that broad, shared knowledge is essential to equality of opportunity. Today I have the great pleasure of highlighting an educator who truly is a knowledge equalizer: Jeff Litt. Litt spent over 30…

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Spend the Summer Reading (Aloud)

Of all the things I want to thank my mother for, the time she devoted to reading aloud to me as a child is at the top of the list. She didn’t just tuck my sister and me into bed with a little story; she climbed in an hour before bedtime and read aloud full…

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Does Class Trump Ability?

“A 13-year study that tracked students of different socioeconomic status found that ‘class trumps ability’ most times when it comes to college graduation, including when comparing top-achieving poor teenagers with top-achieving affluent teenagers.” That’s the summary by Chalkbeat New York (which is an excellent source of info on NYC schools). It links to a New…

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Solving the Grit Problem

Thanks to a new friend, I just read an interesting little article on the struggle to name the set of skills and traits that most successful people exhibit: grit, critical thinking, persistence, optimism, self-control, curiosity, soft skills, etc. The naming part is merely amusing—but the comments surrounding the naming debate offer insights into the skills…

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On Blooming

As a member of the team of educators and editors developing Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA), I’m continually proud of and impressed by the understandings, connections, and accomplishments that students reach when their incredible teachers use the CKLA program to guide instruction. There’s Olivia, the darling girl on this Amplify Learning video, who discovers her…

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