Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

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December 20, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Posts On Study Finding That Standardized Tests Don’t Measure Cognitive Ability

I’ve previously posted about a new study which found that standardized testing may measure how well a school is doing on training students on lower-level thinking skills needed to do well on…standardized tests, but has practically no value in measuring “fluid intelligence” abilities like ability to transfer knowledge in one area and apply it towards solving a problem in another.

There have been a number of articles about it in other places since that, so I thought I’d reprint what I wrote and add links to a few of them.

In addition, I’m adding this list to The Best Posts On How To Prepare For Standardized Tests (And Why They’re Bad).

The study comes from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and you can read their summary here.

Here’s an interview with one of the study’s authors, which I think is even more interesting. He’s very careful with his interpretation of its results — a characteristic that I wish other researchers .

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

Our-core-findings-were

Study: High Standardized Test Scores Don’t Translate to Better Cognition is another article and video about the same study. It’s from U.S. News.

Standardized Achievement Tests: What Are They Good For? Hint: Not Cognitive Ability. is from Scientific American.

Study: Test-score gains don’t mean cognitive gains is from Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

MIT Researchers: Higher Test Scores Do Not Translate into Higher Levels of Thinking is by Diane Ravitch.

What Are Tests Really Measuring?: When Achievement Isn’t Achievement is by Paul Thomas.

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December 20, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Surprising Study — NOT: People Learn A Second Language Better By Physically Simulating Words

'Mirror view' photo (c) 2008, Sudarshan V - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

A new study concludes that:

“If language comprehension is a simulation process that uses neural systems of action, then perhaps we can better teach kids how to understand what they read by getting them to literally simulate the actions,” he explained.

Researchers attributed this conclusion to what are called “mirror neurons.” Kevin Washburn has a useful and short piece on them if you want to learn more.

Of course, these findings are nothing new to teachers of English Language Learners who have used Total Physical Response and other similar techniques for years.

You can read more about those instructional strategies at The Best Resources On Students Using Gestures & Physical Movement To Help With Learning.

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December 17, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Another Study Shows That Self-Affirmation Activities Help People Think More Clearly

'You're worth so much more than that.' photo (c) 2008, DanaK~WaterPenny - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’ve previously posted here on the blog and also written in my books about research that shows the benefits of having students do simple self-affirmation activities.

In Giving Students “Reflection Cards,” I describe its effect on developing self-control and how I apply it in the classroom.

In Useful Writing Exercise For Helping Students Develop Self-Esteem and in Simple Writing Exercise Said To “Narrow Achievement Gap,” I talk about what studies have found about its effect on student academic achievement and, again, how I apply it in my classroom.

Today, another study was released demonstrating the positive impact of these kinds of activities. Though the headline on the story is a bit of hyperbole (saying it can “overcome poverty” is bit overstated — I think that omits a broader perspective on inequality in society), it’s good to see proof reinforced.

Here’s a useful excerpt from the article:

Zhao and co-authors Eldar Shafir of Princeton University and Crystal Hall of University of Washington theorize that self-affirmation alleviates the mentally overwhelming stigma and cognitive threats of poverty, which can impair reasoning, cause bad decisions and perpetuate financial woes.

This study builds on previous research by Zhao and colleagues from Princeton, Harvard and University of Warwick, which found that poverty consumes so much mental energy that those in poor circumstances have little remaining brainpower to concentrate on other areas of life.

As a result, less “mental bandwidth” remains for education, training, time-management, assistance programs and other steps that could help break out of the cycles of poverty.

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December 15, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Study: Standardized Tests Don’t Measure “Fluid Intelligence”

People might differ with my interpretation of a new study that has just come out (and I’d love to hear if you do), but it seems to me that it has found that standardized testing may measure how well a school is doing on training students on lower-level thinking skills needed to do well on…standardized tests, but has practically no value in measuring “fluid intelligence” abilities like ability to transfer knowledge in one area and apply it towards solving a problem in another.

The study comes from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and you can read their summary here.

Here’s an interview with one of the study’s authors, which I think is even more interesting. He’s very careful with his interpretation of its results — a characteristic that I wish other researchers .

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

Our-core-findings-were

Study: High Standardized Test Scores Don’t Translate to Better Cognition is another article and video about the same study. It’s from U.S. News.

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources For Learning About The Concept Of “Transfer” — Help Me Find More.

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December 2, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013 – Part Two

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I write many posts about recent research studies and how they can relate practically to the classroom. In fact, I post a regular feature called Research Studies of the Week. In addition, I write individual posts about studies I feel are particularly relevant to my work as a teacher.

Here are my best posts on research studies since I published My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013 — So Far six months ago.

You might also be interested in:

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2012 — So Far

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2011

I also need to say that I’m way behind on posting about new studies, so I might very well end up having a “Part Three” before the end of the year.

Hare are My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013 – Part Two:

Professor James Heckman Publishes New Paper On “Non-Cognitive Traits”

New Study Says That Half Of “Evidence-Based Practices” In Writing Instruction Not “Signaled” By Common Core

U.S. Dept. Of Ed Announces Not One, Not Two, But Three Studies Show NY Performance Pay Generally Makes Things Worse

New Study On Cash Rewards For Students Tries Really, Really, Really Hard To Make It Look Good

Study: The Benefits Of Saying “I Don’t” vs. “I Can’t”

Another Study Shows The Benefits Of Reading For Pleasure

New Studies Highlight Blurry Line Between Nature & Nurture

These May Be Some Of The Most Important Passages About Self-Control That I’ve Ever Read

New Study: “Using harsh verbal discipline with teens found to be harmful”

New Study: Sleep Boosts Production Of Myelin

The Best Articles About The Study Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough

Social Emotional Learning Can Help, But More Research Shows It’s Not Enough

New Report: “The Science of Learning: How Current Brain Research Can Improve Education”

Study: Appearances Matter

Stop The Presses! Study Finds Student Prior Knowledge Is Important & Best Explored Through “Flipped Flipped Classroom” (not a typo)

More On The Research Showing Reading When Young Slows Alzheimer’s Later

A Surprising Study Only To People Who Have Never Worked In The Community: Low-Income People Care About Their Neighborhoods

Intriguing Study Seems To Question Importance Of Word Quantity Spoken To Young Children

You might also want to check out all my 1,200 “The Best…” lists.

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November 25, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

What Are The Cognitive Impacts Of Poverty?

'human brain on white background' photo (c) 2005, _DJ_ - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Earlier this year, I posted The Best Articles About The Study Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough, which highlighted a study showing that social emotional learning isn’t enough — that poverty causes a lack of self-control and perseverance and it’s not the other way around.

Since that time, a number of other articles have been published focusing on that same subject –the cognitive impacts of poverty. Most of them are on that same study, but a couple talk about different, but similar, research.

I’m going to add all of them to the previously mentioned “Best” list:

Understanding the Cognitive Demands of Poverty on our Students is from Education Week (this is on a different, but similar, study).

Your Brain on Poverty: Why Poor People Seem to Make Bad Decisions is from The Atlantic. I think this quotation from it is particularly important:

As Eldar Shafir, the author of the Science study, told The Atlantic Cities’ Emily Badger: “All the data shows it isn’t about poor people, it’s about people who happen to be in poverty. All the data suggests it is not the person, it’s the context they’re inhabiting.”

How Being Poor Makes You Poor is from The Pacific Standard.

Escaping The Cycle Of Scarcity is from The New York Times. It some interesting ideas on how to respond to this problem, but seems breathtakingly oblivious to the need for political action to get the its roots causes.

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November 25, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Special Edition: “Round-Up” Of Good Posts On Education Policy

'CTU Strike: 'Public $ for Public Schools' Sign' photo (c) 2012, firedoglakedotcom - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Usually, I only post a once-a-week round-up of useful posts on education policy issues. However, I’ve got a bit of a backlog, so here’s a special edition:

Following Common Core money: Where are millions of dollars going? is by Carol Burris and appeared in The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Articles Sharing Concerns About Common Core Standards.

Interesting SIG vs. non-SIG comparisons is from The Thomas Fordham Institute. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Four School Improvement Grant Models.

A Third Of Schools Saw Scores Fall After Getting Federal Grants is from The Huffington Post. I’m adding it to the same list.

Is Robo-Grading Driving the Design of Common Core Tests? is by Anthony Cody at Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Next Generation” Of State Testing.

The Audacity: Thrun Learns A Lesson and Students Pay makes some good points. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On MOOC’s.

Look to other ‘knowledge industries’ to get teacher evaluation right is by Barnett Berry. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments.

Creating Systems of Assessment for Deeper Learning is by Linda Darling-Hammond and others. I’m adding it to the same list.

How Poverty Impacts Students’ Test Scores, In 4 Graphs is from The Huffington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher & Outside Factors Have On Student Achievement.

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November 25, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Posts On Curiosity

'curious' photo (c) 2008, woodleywonderworks - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I was prompted to write this post after reading a piece this morning in Scientific American about a very intriguing study. The S-A article is titled Openness to Experience and Creative Achievement.

The article is a big confusing — at least, to a layperson like me. Fortunately, however, the author links to another study that supports his conclusions, and that study was much more accessible to me.

To quickly summarize it — at least, my understanding of its conclusions — both studies find that achievement (academic and otherwise), and especially creative achievement, require three qualities: intellect, conscientiousness and intellectual curiosity. It’s that last quality that you don’t hear much more — intellectual ability and “grit” get a lot of attention, but what the second study calls having a “hungry mind” hasn’t been written about nearly as much.

I think that this finding has some potential for use in the classroom, especially when we work with students on the importance of asking good questions. I know that I always have a disproportionate number of students, for example, who aspire to be video game designers, and incorporating these studies in a life skills lesson sure wouldn’t hurt!

Here are some other resources on the importance of curiosity:

The Best Posts & Articles About Asking Good Questions

Quote Of The Day: Asking Genuine Questions

“The Hook, Curiosity, and the Brain”

The Case for Curiosity

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November 17, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Professor James Heckman Publishes New Paper On “Non-Cognitive Traits”

'James Heckman' photo (c) 2011, Instituto Ayrton Senna - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Thanks to Matthew Di Carlo at The Shanker Blog, today I learned about a new research paper by Nobel-Prize winner James Heckman.

It’s called Fostering and Measuring Skills: Interventions That Improve Character and Cognition.

It’s a lengthy one. I’ve copied and pasted a few short excerpts that I thought were particularly important.

You can see all my previous posts about Professor Heckman’s work here. The most important one is titled Prof. James Heckman Says Adolescence Is Key Time To Teach (& Learn About) Self-Control & Perseverance.

Here are the excerpts (the numbers are footnotes you can see the actual paper):

Achievement test scores predict only a small fraction of the variance in later-life success. For example, adolescent achievement test scores only explain about 15% of the variance in later-life earnings.4 It is unlikely that measurement error accounts for most of the remainingvariance.5 Something fundamental is missing.

Achievement tests do not adequately capture character skills such as conscientiousness, perseverance, sociability, and curiosity, which are valued in the labor market, in school, and in many other domains. Until recently these skills have largely been ignored. However, in recent research economists and psychologists have constructed measures of these skills and provide evidence that they are stable across situations and predict meaningful life outcomes.6…

Skills are not set in stone at birth. They can be improved. Cognitive and character skills change with age and with instruction. Interventions to improve skills are effective to different degrees for different skills at different ages. Importantly, character skills are more malleable at later ages…

These problems are empirically important. For example, incentives partly determine scores on IQ tests. A series of studies conducted over the past 40 years show that incentives, like money or candy, can increase IQ scores, particularly among low-IQ individuals. The black{white gap in IQ can be completely eliminated by giving M&M candies for correct answers.33 However, there is no evidence that this performance persists. It has not been shown that creating incentives for performance on one test improves performance on subsequent tests, and , in fact, may worsen subsequent performance (Deci and Ryan, 1985; Ryan and Deci, 2000)

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November 10, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Highlights Of A Reddit Chat With Angela Duckworth & Roland Fryer

reddit

Reddit hosted a chat this week with MacArthur genius awardees Angela Duckworth & Roland Fryer.

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m no fan of Fryer’s work, and nothing he said in the chat made me elevate that opinion.

Angela Duckworth, though, is a different story, and I’ve been very impressed with her research on grit (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit”). And I think she share some important and useful info on Reddit.

I think the most important piece of research she shared, though she made it clear that it’s not solid and it’s an “informal” finding, was this:

I do think there are things we can do to improve grit and self-control. Most of my ideas (things I think) haven’t been tested, but in this informal setting, I will say that I think (but don’t know yet for sure) that just being around a lot of people of exemplify these qualities should help.

Even though, to a certain extent, this is common sense, this particular comment is going to be very helpful to me. Coincidentally, I’m doing my lesson on grit right now in class, and being able to share this quote (students have been reading about her research and watching her videos) can, I think, apply a little peer pressure — “if I show grit, then I’m helping my classmates and, if don’t show it, I’m hurting them.”

Here are some other things she shared that she believes could help people develop grit:

Another idea with some empirical evidence behind it is that certain beliefs should help with both self-control. Believing that self-control is a limited resource and should therefore be conserved tends not to encourage people to use self-control. Believing that self-control doesn’t run out after use has the opposite (and in this case, a positive, adaptive) effect. Our lab thinks that believing that effort and practice play a huge, not minor, role in success encourages grit. Also, believing that failure is part of learning and part of life should encourage grit. We are working on strategies and beliefs now…

I’m not convinced about her perspective on self-control — believing that it’s a limited resource doesn’t mean it has to be conserved. It means that you have to be strategic to make sure it gets replenished (see The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control). I don’t believe most research supports Prof. Duckworth’s position on self-control (which she shares with another person whom I admire, Carol Dweck) and have written about it specifically at Our Students Are Not Supermen & Superwomen.

I was struck by her response to a question that, though not specifically, seemed to be touching on the 10,000 hour rule:

My view is that achievement = talent x effort. In particular, I think some people learn/improve faster than others, and we can call that talent. And some people work longer and harder than others, and we can call that effort. The real superstars, the outliers, are almost without exception high in talent and effort.

She also referred to a good “This I Believe” piece by Martha Graham.

Finally, there was this interchange:

Angela, You’re at UPenn, in Philadelphia, where it seems like schools are closing left and right and the whole system is in extreme turmoil. How can low-income kids be expected to show continued grit and fortitude in those kinds of settings, in the face of closings, mergers and such instability?

(Angela Duckworth) You bring up an important point. The situations in which people find themselves has a huge effect on outcomes. And, I don’t want attention to grit and other aspects of character to imply that we don’t need to work on improving the situations of kids – their neighborhoods, schools, opportunities, etc. But, it’s also true, that for kids in the schools (and by the way, my two kids are in the Philadelphia schools as of this year, since we moved from the ‘burbs), they have little choice other than to ask “How can I, without changing the whole system” do as well as I can? What can I do?” In other words, kids are not to blame for their situations, and situations are important, but kids also need to develop a sense of responsibility and agency about their lives. The road may be bumpy, and that’s not necessarily their fault, but they need to think of themselves as in the driver’s seat, not the passenger seat.

I do wish she had made a stronger point about how grit and SEL not being enough, especially since “school reformers” are using her research as part of the “No Excuses” mantra.

At the same time, I do agree that helping our students develop grit is one thing we can do in dealing with the world “as it is” instead of just operating in the world “as we’d like it to be.”

If you get a chance, read the Reddit transcript and let me know your thoughts on what you see.

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November 10, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Research Studies Of The Week

'magnifying glass' photo (c) 2005, Tall Chris - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I often write about research studies from various fields and how they can be applied to the classroom. I write individual posts about ones that I think are especially significant, and will continue to do so. However, so many studies are published that it’s hard to keep up. So I’ve started writing a “round-up” of some of them each week or every other week as a regular feature:

Thinking of quitting smoking? Mondays may be your day is a report in USA Today about a new study that found people were more likely to initiate efforts to quit smoking on a Monday. It seems to me that this reinforces an idea that I’ve always thought — that having students review their weekly goals at the beginning of the week was a good practice. As the article says:

The researchers are not surprised. “People see Mondays as a fresh start, a chance to get their acts together,” says Morgan Johnson, research director for The Monday Campaigns, a not-for-profit organization that leads public health efforts such as Meatless Mondays. The group, based in New York, sponsored the new study after finding that calls to smokers’ quit lines and visits to the federal government’s Smokefree.gov website also peaked on Mondays.

I’m adding this info to My Best Posts On Students Setting Goals.

Scientists Discover Why Exercise Makes You Smarter is from Psychology Today. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On How Exercise Helps Learning.

The Best Learning Motivator EVER! is by Eric Jensen. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students.

Stop YELLING AT YOUR KIDS. It’s Bad for Them. is an article in Slate about a study that I’ve previously written about, but this article is particularly good:

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that “harsh verbal discipline”—cursing, insults, and shouting—can be as harmful to kids as hitting or spanking.

Here’s an additional excerpt from the article:

But-whats-wrong-with

Even though it’s not “my” article, I’m going to add it to My Best Posts On Classroom Management since that’s the best place to put it for now.

I’ve written a lot about brain “priming” and its use and possible misuse in the classroom. The New York Times just published a thoughtful article examining similar issues related to it.

How Field Trips Build Critical Thinking Skills is a post from MindShift about a recent study. Though it’s not a study, you might also be interested in Why the much-maligned field trip really matters from The Washington Post.

This new study confirms what every teacher knows — self-control is stronger in the morning and decreases as the day goes on. It goes along with previous research that has found self-control is an asset that can be depleted.

Speaking a Second Language May Delay Different Dementias is a report on a new study. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning The Advantages To Being Bilingual.

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November 2, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Research Studies Of The Week

'magnifying glass' photo (c) 2005, Tall Chris - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I often write about research studies from various fields and how they can be applied to the classroom. I write individual posts about ones that I think are especially significant, and will continue to do so. However, so many studies are published that it’s hard to keep up. So I’ve started writing a “round-up” of some of them each week or every other week as a regular feature:

Why It Might Be Helpful to Apologize for Something That’s Not Your Fault is from The Harvard Business Review and shares some interesting research. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On The Importance Of Saying “I’m Sorry.”

Retained Students and Classmates’ Absences in Urban Schools is a new study of the effect retaining students has on their classmates. Here’s an excerpt:

Based on quasi-experimental methods, the results indicate that a greater percentage of retained classmates increases other students’ absences. The effect is only present on unexcused absences, not excused absences, hence signaling an increase in disengagement in other students.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About Grade Retention, Social Promotion & Alternatives To Both.

The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: Why Paper Still Beats Screens [Preview] provides a short summary of research on the topic.

So, do iPads really improve student learning? is from Plugged-In Pedagogy. I’m adding it to The Best Research Available On The Use Of Technology In Schools.

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October 31, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Google Scholar” Alerts Could Be Very Helpful For Research

google

Richard Byrne has just posted some helpful screenshots about how people can sign-up for Google Scholar Alerts related to particular research topics. Though I skeptical they’ll be particularly useful to students, they seem to me to be potentially extremely useful to those of us educators who frequently do research.

I’ve certainly be aware of Google Alerts, though it seems to me that its quality has declined over the years. I’ve found that Trap.it does a much better job at providing a wide range of daily resources based on the key words you specify.

I’ve sometimes used Google Scholar in the past, though not on any kind of consistent basis. And I certainly was not aware of their Alerts prior to Richard’s posting about them. I’m hopeful that Google Scholar Alerts can provide up-to-date research that I might miss otherwise.

We’ll see….

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October 26, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Research Studies Of The Week

'magnifying glass' photo (c) 2005, Tall Chris - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I often write about research studies from various fields and how they can be applied to the classroom. I write individual posts about ones that I think are especially significant, and will continue to do so. However, so many studies are published that it’s hard to keep up. So I’ve started writing a “round-up” of some of them each week or every other week as a regular feature:

Exercise ‘boosts academic performance’ of teenagers is a report from the BBC on an important study. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On How Exercise Helps Learning.

Here are two more reports I’m adding to the same list:

Exercise Can Improve Long-Term Memory is from Psy Blog.

Physical Exercise Beefs Up the Brain is from Brain Facts.

Study: 80% of College Students Say They Text in Class is from The Atlantic. It’s perfect for my supplemental lesson related to the Marshmallow Test, which relates to texting. So I’m adding it to My Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

10 Things You Should Know About Goals is a good summary of research on goal-setting, and is from Neuronarrative. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Students Setting Goals.

Study says yelling as harmful as spanking in disciplining kids. is from The Washington Post. The article is directed towards parents but, obviously, we teachers should keep it in mind, too.

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October 20, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Research Studies Of The Week

'magnifying glass' photo (c) 2005, Tall Chris - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I often write about research studies from various fields and how they can be applied to the classroom. I write individual posts about ones that I think are especially significant, and will continue to do so. However, so many studies are published that it’s hard to keep up. So I’ve started writing a “round-up” of some of them each week or every other week as a regular feature:

Your Brain Cells Shrink While You Sleep (And That’s a Good Thing) is a report from TIME about a new study that’s been receiving a fair amount of media attention. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Helping Teens Learn About The Importance Of Sleep.

The Motivational Power of Media is an article from The Pacific Standard about research finding that showing people motivational video clips can…motivate their feelings of wanting to achieve their goals. It may be worth a quick read, but I’m not adding it to The Best Posts On Students Setting Goals. I know all too well from my community organizing experience that the energy from an inspiring speaker (or video clip) may result in an immediate “high,” but that it dissipates pretty quickly afterwards.

BPS Research Digest has published a Guide to Willpower Research. I’ve written about most of the studies cited in it (so I won’t add it to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control) , but it’s still a nice collection.

10 Things You Should Know About Goals is a similar collection of research — this one on…goals — and it’s from Forbes. Like the Willpower collection, though, I’ve already posted about most of the research cited here so won’t add it to my “Best” list on goals. But it’s still probably worth taking a look…

When Homework is a Waste of Time is from TIME. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Homework Issues.

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October 17, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Research Studies Of The Week

'magnifying glass' photo (c) 2005, Tall Chris - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I often write about research studies from various fields and how they can be applied to the classroom. I write individual posts about ones that I think are especially significant, and will continue to do so. However, so many studies are published that it’s hard to keep up. So I’ve started writing a “round-up” of some of them each week or every other week as a regular feature:

A recent study was published identifying what elements make an infographic more memorable. Here’s an excerpt from an article on the study:

“A visualization will be instantly and overwhelmingly more memorable if it incorporates an image of a human-recognizable object—if it includes a photograph, people, cartoons, logos—any component that is not just an abstract data visualization,” says Pfister. “We learned that any time you have a graphic with one of those components, that’s the most dominant thing that affects the memorability.”

Visualizations that were visually dense proved memorable, as did those that used many colors. Other results were more surprising.

“You’d think the types of charts you’d remember best are the ones you learned in school—the bar charts, pie charts, scatter plots, and so on,” Borkin says. “But it was the opposite.”

Unusual types of charts, like tree diagrams, network diagrams, and grid matrices, were actually more memorable.

“If you think about those types of diagrams—for example, tree diagrams that show relationships between species, or diagrams that explain a molecular chemical process—every one of them is going to be a little different, but the branching structures feel very natural to us,” explains Borkin. “That combination of the familiar and the unique seems to influence the memorability.”

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Creating Infographics.

Forget Delayed Gratification: What Kids Really Need Is Cognitive Control is an article in TIME that says we shouldn’t necessarily talk about “self-control.” Instead:

fighting off impulses is just one part of a much broader and more predictive mental skill, one that scientists call cognitive control or the ability to manage your attention.

That phrase was new to me, and I’m adding it to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

I’ve written a lot about how extrinsic rewards don’t improve performance. A new study, though, tried offering “prosocial bonuses” — money that workers could give to charities. They found some positive results.

How Field Trips Build Critical Thinking Skills is a short article at MindShift about a study documenting the academic benefits of taking…field trips.

Five Research-Driven Education Trends At Work in Classrooms is another interesting article at MindShift.

The Power of Restraint: Always Leave Them Wanting More is an article from The Harvard Business Review citing a fair amount of research, and is worth reviewing.

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October 13, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

New Study Says That Half Of “Evidence-Based Practices” In Writing Instruction Not “Signaled” By Common Core

'Writing Assignment - Drafting and Revising' photo (c) 2010, Enokson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

One day after I posted the last in a three part Education Week Teacher series on teaching writing in the context of the Common Core Standards, a study was released suggesting that over one-half of “evidence-based practices” in writing instruction are not “signaled” in those standards.

This is a quote from one of the researchers in Sarah Sparks’ article about the study in Education Week:

“Standards don’t specify the how to, they specify the what to teach,” Troia said, “but they are supposed to ‘sign-post’ or signal to teachers what they might teach.”

Sarah’s post made the study sound interesting enough for me to pay the $12.50 it cost to get past a paywall.

The researchers identified thirty-six “evidence-based practices” in writing instruction (it was a little unclear to me how they chose them, but I assume they were the practices with the most research behind them) and found that over half of them were not “signaled” in the Common Core Standards. Those included emphasizing feedback, the use of text models, teaching grammar in context, and helping to develop student intrinsic motivation.

The authors really try hard in at several points to say their study is not a critique of the standards but, I’ve got to say after reading the study, it’s hard not to look at it any other way.

I think it’s a worthwhile document for teachers to have. It’s short and concise. It’s an excellent summary of writing instruction research and, even if the CCSS don’t encourage them, that doesn’t mean we can’t…

I’m adding this post to My Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

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September 30, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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U.S. Dept. Of Ed Announces Not One, Not Two, But Three Studies Show NY Performance Pay Generally Makes Things Worse

'200th Strikeout!' photo (c) 2007, Eric Kilby - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Three strikes, yer out!

The Institute Of Education Sciences has announced that out of three approved studies of a New York performance pay program, one showed across the board negative effects on student achievement; another showed negative effects in some areas and no effect in others; and a third one showed no effect at all (thanks to Morgan Polikoff).

The first study was conducted by Roland Fryer, who has turned into Captain Ahab going after the Moby Dick of using pay to increase student achievement.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea.

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September 29, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Research Studies Of The Week

'magnifying glass' photo (c) 2005, Tall Chris - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
I often write about research studies from various fields and how they can be applied to the classroom. I write individual posts about ones that I think are especially significant, and will continue to do so. However, so many studies are published that it’s hard to keep up. So I’ve started writing a “round-up” of some of them each week or every other week as a regular feature:

Here’s an interesting “take” on incentives:

Before writing personal bonus checks to your employees this December, have a look at our paper — hot off the press! If you are hoping that a bonus would allow them to buy whatever they wish and as a result be happier at work and more productive, we have a better idea! Rather than giving your employees more personal bonuses, make a minor adjustment and offer them prosocial bonuses, a novel type of bonus to be spent on others.

Across three field experiments, we tested the efficacy of prosocial bonuses against the standard model of personal bonuses. We found that when companies gave their employees money to spend on charities or on their colleagues (as opposed to themselves), employees 1) reported increased job satisfaction and 2) performed notably better.

How Physical Fitness May Promote School Success is from The New York Times. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On How Exercise Helps Learning — Please Contribute Other Resources.

Think Twice, Speak Once: Bilinguals Process Both Languages Simultaneously is from Science Daily. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning The Advantages To Being Bilingual.

Helping Others Helps You Live Longer is from TIME.

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