Helping Students Fail Forward

Author and speaker John Maxwell has written a number of books about success. One of my favorites is Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success. In the book, Maxwell shares stories of a number of prominent people who experienced significant failures and then moved on from those failures in dramatic, positive ways.  In … Continue reading Helping Students Fail Forward

The Silly Putty Brain

One of my favorite activities as a child involved manipulating silly putty. It was great fun, because it was easy to reshape the rubbery mass into whatever came to mind. I also enjoyed flattening the putty out and pressing it on the Sunday comics to transfer the colorful images. The best part of it all … Continue reading The Silly Putty Brain

High Yield Strategy: Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback

My household is a place where food is important (as you can probably attest by my girth).  Each weekend, we plan a menu for the upcoming week.  Based upon that menu, we prepare a list of grocery needs.  I write the grocery list down, and many times I write the list based upon departments and … Continue reading High Yield Strategy: Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback

High Yield Strategy: Homework and Practice

Homework is a hotly debated and often researched topic among educators.  There seems to be a rather significant divide at times regarding whether or not it really makes a difference for students.  Today’s writing is not intended to swim into those deep waters.  Instead, today we will continue to move forward with our review of … Continue reading High Yield Strategy: Homework and Practice

Formative Feedback for Deeper Learning

As a middle school and high school choir director, I frequently walked throughout the ensemble during a rehearsal to hear individual members singing their respective parts.  In that real-time setting, I was able to help correct errors in pitch, dynamic, tempo, diction, phrasing, and breathing.  I am convinced that those moments of “in the moment” … Continue reading Formative Feedback for Deeper Learning

Practice (With Feedback) Makes Improvement

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “Practice makes perfect.”  While it rolls nicely off the tongue, it is not completely true.  I learned this when I had to take piano lessons in college as a music major.  For the 10 years prior to my matriculation into the university, I had played piano by ear … Continue reading Practice (With Feedback) Makes Improvement

Providing Students Meaningful Feedback

Instructional feedback for students is essential to their growth, and instructional feedback has been extensively researched over the past several decades.  On giant in that research field is Grant Wiggins.  In his article Seven Keys to Effective Feedback (, Wiggins shares that instructional feedback should be: Goal-referenced – Tasks must be clearly defined and goals … Continue reading Providing Students Meaningful Feedback

Helping Students Learn to Strive for Accuracy

Over the past several weekends, I’ve been volunteering my time to help a young couple with a home makeover project.  Bear in mind, I have very little skill in this area, but I’m a willing participant!  On a recent assignment, I was to create a rough opening for a door installation.  I read how to … Continue reading Helping Students Learn to Strive for Accuracy

Brain Building

Many people have probably heard someone say they were “right brained” or “left brained.” While it is true that some portions of the brain are more active during some processes, advances in medical imaging have shown that the entire brain is engaged at some level in all processing. Such a finding, coupled with the knowledge … Continue reading Brain Building

Assessing Individual and Group Learning in Projects

Students, teachers, and parents commonly question how individual students will be assessed during project based teaching. In her book Project Based Teaching: How to Create Rigorous and Engaging Learning Experiences, author Suzie Boss shares the following suggestions related to assessing individuals and groups throughout the project period (pp. 116-118): Clarify which components are assessed at … Continue reading Assessing Individual and Group Learning in Projects