Culturally Responsive Teaching: How the Brain Can Hijack Learning

  This one is going to be technical, so hang on. The brain, like a computer, has certain in-built structures — its hardware, if you will.  These structures sort and store  information through experiences and then apply it when necessary to ensure our survival. The structures developed in three layers, from the bottom up, and […]

Culturally Responsive Teaching: How Not to Miss the Point

Culturally Responsive Teaching has been a buzzword in education for several years now. As a result, many teachers make an effort to include cultural artifacts from diverse groups in their classrooms in the form of flags, colorful posters, costuming, foods, and music.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating the cultures of your diverse students, […]

Big Sky 2018: Six Great Things About Estes Park

Auditors:  We are getting closer to Big Sky of the Rockies, so we thought now would be a good time to start letting you know some great stuff about our conference location this year.  In no particular order, here are 6 great things about Estes Park. Vistas If you love mountain majesty, sweeping views, and […]

Vygotsky vs. Piaget: A Paradigm Shift

When I was doing my initial teacher training, Jean Piaget’s theories of learning were a major focus of my required Ed Psych class.  I didn’t know it at the time, but Piaget’s theories had already been in decline for some years.  He was in our textbook, however, and textbooks are expensive, so we all studied […]

School, Reimagined

Despite NCLB, ESSA, Common Core, block schedules, and whatever else has come down the pike, education in the U.S. has not changed dramatically in the last 150 years.   Peek into any school in the country and you are likely to see desks in rows, with a single teacher at the front of the room dispensing […]

Scheduled Creativity

“Inspiration is for amateurs.”  —  Chuck Close, painter Although this title may seem oxymoronic, there is fascinating research supporting the idea that deliberately setting aside time without distraction can induce an optimally creative state in the human brain.  This is the central premise in a new book by Cal Newport, entitled Deep Work. Unfortunately, we […]

Early Education and the Achievement Gap

What would happen if a group of economists opened an experimental preschool, with the intention of providing impoverished children with the skills they needed to be successful in school?  And what would happen if they enrolled the parents of those children in a Parent Academy designed to help the parents better tutor their children in […]

What does Real World, Hands-On Instruction Look Like?

“No child rises to low expectations. ”       – Stephen Ritz Contexts, the “how” of student activities, can make or break a student’s ability to retain important information.  Some contexts – like things that only occur in classrooms and things that resemble tests – result in less engagement than others: they are intrinsically […]

Website Highlight: Curriculum Analysis

One of the things we encounter frequently during Curriculum Management Audits is the practice of adopting Common Core or state standards (such as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) intact – no local prioritization or refinement of them at all.  The problem with this practice is that these standards are often too vague to provide […]

Website Highlight: Assessment Alignment Analysis

The PARCC Released Item Analysis shows what auditors look for when comparing district assessments to the high-stakes tests in use. Ideally, district formative assessments should prepare students for what they will encounter on the PARCC, Smarter Balanced, STARR, or other state tests. In practice, however, many assessments don’t align with those tests in the level […]