researchED Secondary English in Swindon: Program Set!

In this very busy first quarter of the new school year, my blog admin is getting clogged with partially finished posts. The problem, I’m finding, is that I keep taking up topics (school behavior/discipline philosophies, David Didau’s fine bookDeans For Impact’s Science of Learning, etc., etc.) too rich and complex to write and wrap up neatly. Here’s a promise to buckle down on and finish the darn things. Hold me to it, will you? Thanks in advance.

In the interim, I’m opening a new space to quickly announce that the program has officially been released for researchED’s secondary English conference in November. (Details here.) I’m thrilled to be included and talking ELA instruction among the likes of Ray Land, Carl Hendrick, Phil Stock, the aforementioned David Didau, and many, many others. See you in Swindon, all!

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4 comments

  1. Hello Eric,
    I was at the Researched conference yesterday and was delighted to hear your talk. I can safely say that I am much better informed about American Football tactics than before!
    On a more serious note, I was captured by the idea that reading was not a skill. Do you think it is a body of knowledge?

    Look forward to seeing/hearing you again at Research ED.

    Elaine

    1. Hi Elaine…thanks so much for being in touch. Any time you want to know more about American football, I’d love to be of assistance.

      Great question, too, on the idea of reading not being a skill. Part of reading — decoding — is more skill-like, of course, in that it’s something that can be built, practiced, and mastered. After decoding is achieved, however, and we start looking at how to build students’ comprehension of text, we’re not really looking at something that can be roundly built, practiced, and mastered. And this was the main thrust of my talk, as you know.

      Think of it this way: at this stage of my life, I’m pretty confident I could decode anything written in English. The decoding skills I mastered at an early age allow me to be able to do so. Comprehending, though, is an entirely other matter. As the football terminology demo showed yesterday (or so I hope), we need knowledge to make true comprehension — and thus all those other more applied and critical — pieces happen. Though I may comprehend exactly what’s happening in that football piece or a piece of literary criticism, those comprehension abilities are highly dependent on the knowledge I possess. They won’t, due to some high general level of comprehension skill (which, remember, doesn’t exist), transfer across all types of writing or subject areas. Put a highly technical piece of organic chemistry in front of me, for instance, and I couldn’t make heads or tails of it — far much less make related inferences, judgments, or applications.

      In short, I’m not exactly arguing that comprehension is a body of knowledge. Rather, it’s the tying together of various knowledge — a tying together we can never do if we don’t have that knowledge it to begin with. And that said: if choosing to build students’ comprehension through comprehension skill practice or through deepening content knowledge, the more fruitful use of instructional time will always be to choose the latter.

      I suggest you look at some work by Daniel Willingham, as he’s gathered some of the best takes and resources on this of anyone I’ve seen. His work is highly influential to me, that’s for sure…

      Thanks so much for being in touch. Please reach out any time!

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