Knowledge Series Part 2: In Defense of Knowledge

Knowledge is Important for Reading Comprehension

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being able to read well. Reading is so central to my life, in my leisure time, and in how I pursue ongoing professional development and lifelong learning. It is equally crucial for our students, for them to enjoy literature, pursue further education, and access information online.

Because reading is important, knowledge is important, as knowledge improves reading comprehension. In one study, students’ comprehension of a passage on baseball was correlated, not with previous identification of them as poor or strong readers, but with their knowledge of baseball. Another study looked at how students’ background knowledge on birds affected their reading comprehension of a storybook featuring birds; the difference between students with more knowledge and the students with less disappeared when the storybook was about a made-up creatures called wugs. Simply put, it is easier to read books and articles on topics for which you already possess knowledge.

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Knowledge Series Part 1: Introduction

Maybe you’re sitting through some PD or training. Or a member of administration is trying to be inspirational during a meeting. Or a video is circulating through the school e-mail.

The presenter pulls out a smartphone: “The students of today don’t need to have their heads filled with knowledge, when they’re carrying a computer in their pocket. All the knowledge they need is right here, at their fingertips.”

I can’t remember when I first heard this. I can’t remember when I first started to doubt it. But I do know that, now, I firmly disagree. The accessibility of information today makes knowledge more important, not less, if we want to equip students to navigate the raging river of information, think critically about it, and use it to engage intelligently with the world.

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I Read an Entire Textbook on Cognitive Psychology; This is What I Learned

I’ve kind of become a cognitive psychology addict, ever since I stumbled upon the work of Daniel Willingham. And then edu-blogger after edu-blogger, discussing the implications for classroom teaching, and others who are active on social media. I was boggled that nowhere in my teaching training was this really addressed, beyond the requirement of an introductory psychology course, too broad to be of any use.

And yet, I maintained a little skepticism. Science can be filtered through lenses and put to particular purposes. Did the field of cognitive psychology agree with how its work was being interpreted? How did these blog posts and tweets fit in the context of the field? Was there other information relevant to teaching and learning that I was missing?

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Reading Round-up: Nov. 5, 2017

Changed the name of this series, because some of these aren’t blogs. Added some headings too, so it’s slightly more organized.

Education and Schools

Is it ever okay for students to swear in class?

Role of questioning in differentiation in a lesson, and the role of differentiation in maintaining the bell curve

How to build historical empathy among students, and have them judge past decisions in the context of the times (this specific example focuses on Rasputin, and how to develop a sense of period for the end of Czarist Russia)

There’s been a few posts from the last couple weeks, on how the implementation of new teaching ideas can be divorced from the original intentions; Mark Enser helps keep us on track by prompting us to think about the ‘why’

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Blog Post Round-up: Oct. 29, 2017

Seeing as I read and lurk around the internet much more than I produce content, might as well make this a regular feature.

Does Teacher Retention Matter?

Yes, it does. Here are five reasons why.

1. Teachers who have previous experience with that grade or course are more effective teachers.
It is an accepted truth (backed up with evidence) that experienced teachers are more effective teachers. Some studies find this improvement plateaus after the first few years, others find continuous improvement throughout a teacher’s career. You could argue that schools could simply hire experienced teachers; there is no need to retain them. However, experience with a specific grade or course matters more than general teaching experience; teachers hired to a new school will not necessarily teach the same grade or course as they did at their old school, or even the same curriculum (especially for international teachers).

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Teacher Becomes Student: An Adventure in Online Summer Learning: Part 1, Initial Thoughts

This summer, I am taking three online courses: introduction to macroeconomics, intermediate economics, and introduction to prose forms (an English literature course). The motive for this came from the job hunt; I want to expand the courses I am qualified to teach, to broaden the choices for jobs I can apply for. To do that, I need to take qualification courses such as these from Western University or this one from Queen’s University. To do that, if you took a peek at those prerequisites, I need more undergraduate credits.

So, here I am, a student again.

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