Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time

I just read Jane E. Pollock's Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time. Jane is a coauthor with Marzano in Classroom Instruction that Works. This book follows that vein. In many ways it is an emphasis and restatement of the Classroom text.

She describes four corners of teaching- assessment, instruction, feedback and curriculum- calling them the Big Four. True, these elements are pivotal to quality instruction and everyone could improve in at least one of them. Her mandate is more of a do them than a how to do them. While each chapter has a section highlighting how a teacher implemented changes in the area under discussion, hard examples of how to enact a plan of action are sparse and singular. She often repeats that you may need to develop what works for you on your own, but starting points are usually limited to one. In this era where some schools are again increasing scripting for instruction and have implemented rigid online grading programs, some of the ideas would be very difficult to use.

I did like her idea for a plan book that had a set of abbreviations for each segment of a lesson to ensure that each component is covered. Her exclusionary focus on the Hunter style lesson shows the wisdom Hunter brought to the field- her methodology is still touted as an instructional ideal.

Overall, if you have read Classroom Instruction, this book is probably not worth your time. It would make a good preview to that book. If you were struggling with how to improve some aspect of instruction the Classroom book offers more suggestions. If you need a less information dense book this book would fit the bill.

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