Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Proof. Evidence. Data. Verification. Research-based. Those are fancy words. I am not a smart man. Ask my wife, my kids, my former teachers, people I currently work with, people I've spoken to for longer than 24 seconds......they'll all tell you the same thing. I can't always understand big words. So what do these fancy words mean to me? It works.

If there is data/evidence/proof to support something, it works. If something has solid research behind it, it works. If a program has been verified, it works. Nice and simple. Fancy words are for fancy people. This guy puts his blue jeans on one leg at a time and drinks his beverages from an old fruit jar.

I am currently re-reading Classroom Instruction That Works by Robert Marzano, Debra Pickering and Jane Pollack. Below is a review of Chapter Two.

Identifying Similarities and Differences

Based on research, we know the following:
1. Students will have a better understanding of similarities and differences with specific guidance in identifying these from their teachers.
2. Having students independently identify similarities and differences also increases their understanding.
3. Representing similarities and differences in symbolic/graphic form increases understanding.

Specific guidance, independent work & using symbols/graphics=>understanding.

The authors identify the following actions as support for students in identifying similarities and differences:

  • Identification of important characteristics
  • Comparison Graphic Organizers (Venn Diagram, Comparison Matrix).
  • Teacher-directed task: Teachers give specific items to compare, and specific characteristics to compare them by.
  • Student-directed task: Teacher gives items to compare, students produce the characteristics.
  • Placing elements into groups based on similarities
  • However, its mportant for students to understand the rules of classification (why certain things are placed in certain categories). Also, a key is understanding of why items go into the chosen category (justification).
  • Teacher-directed activities: Teacher gives students the elements to classify and the categories to use.
  • Student-directed activities: Teacher gives the elements; students must produce the categories.
  • Two items connection in a nonliteral relationship
  • Using graphic organizers is a good way for kids to make connections with common abstract patters. Students should be able to identify the common abstract.
  • Teacher-directed activity: Teachers provides the first element adn the abstract relationship.
  • Student-directed activity: Students are given the first element, but are expected to identify the second element and the abstract relationship.
  • A:B-C:D. (Eighty is to eight as dime is to __________).
  • Try graphic organizers for these as well. Have students identify the relationship when working on analogies.
  • Teacher-directed activity: Teachers may present all 4 elements to the analogy and ask students what the relationship is. Or, they may provide 3 of the 4, and ask students to put in the missing element.
  • Student-directed activity: Teacher provides the first 2 elements, students come up with the next 2.
All of these ideas are quite useful at all levels of learning. They can be great as stand alone lessons, or as fillers when lessons end early.

Tunes to consider: When My Time Comes, Dawes. My Old Ways, Dr. Dog. Staple It Together, Jack Johnson.

As I start to get mentally prepared for the Bears season, I find myself really missing the playoff-push of September baseball. My poor Red Sox were just decimated by injuries this year, we never had a shot. As far as the Bears, I truly believe we can ride the right leg of Robbie Gould all the way to the Super Bowl.........

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