Focus: Elevating the Essentials To Radically Improve Student Learning

I love this book. Love it. Mike Schmoker, a long advocate of using data to guide instruction, brings so many of his ideas together here. He has written a simple and direct book that basically says we just need to do two things well: Check for understanding and Promote excellent reading and writing skills.

Some quotes:

  • “Much of good education consists, as it always has, of a simple combination of one or more good texts matched with an interesting question.”
  • If we could institute only one change to make students more college ready, it should be to increase the amount and quality of writing students are expected to produce.”
    • “The Impact of Formative Assessment and effective Checking for Understanding is:
    • 20 to 30 times as much positive impact on learning than the most popular current initiatives
    • About 10 times as cost-effective as reducing class size
    • Would add between 6 and 9 months of additional learning growth per year
    • Accounts for as much as 400% “speed of learning differences” (4x as fast)”
  • “Simply asking, ‘Does anyone have any questions?’ does not work.”

I liked this so much that I made a presentation to the MBUSD Board of Trustees on March 30, 2011.  You can see that PowerPoint here.

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