Weekly Digest #116: Getting Ready for Effective Teaching

Weekly Digest #116: Getting Ready for Effective Teaching

It’s only 53 days to September 1st, so a lot of us are thinking about starting to get ready for the Fall (perhaps not quite getting ready yet - but thinking about it!). There are some teaching strategies that are harder to implement once the school year starts, and much easier with a little planning. In this digest, we recommend 5 resources to help you plan for identifying and including effective teaching and learning strategies in your Fall classes so that you can hit the ground running once back-to-school rolls around.

1) Designing Learning in an Evidence-Informed Way
by Dr. Mirjam Neelen @MirjamN & Dr. Paul A. Kirschner @P_A_Kirschner

In order to use evidence-based - i.e., effective - teaching strategies, it is first important to understand what that actually means, and how one goes about evaluating the evidence that a teaching strategy is based on. Luckily for us, Mirjam Neelen and Paul A. Kirschner recently published a blog post explaining just that.

2) (Trying to apply) Spacing in a Content Heavy Subject
by Damian Benney @Benneypenyrheol

Spacing is definitely something that requires advance planning. We have written a lot about spacing in teaching and learning on this blog. In the blog post linked above, Mr. Benney describes how he implements spacing through lagged homework assignments in his science classes, but this technique can be used for virtually any type of class.

3) Retrieval Practice: The Most Powerful Learning Strategy You’re Not Using
by Jennifer Gonzalez @cultofpedagogy (an interview with Dr. Pooja Agarwal @PoojaAgarwal)

Contrary to the title of this piece, we hope that regular readers of our blog are using retrieval practice! However, even if you are, you may not necessarily have discovered all of the different ways that you can implement retrieval practice in your classrooms throughout the school year. This podcast and accompanying blog post describe a number of different strategies for varying it up with retrieval practice.

4) GUEST POST: How to Shift a School Towards Better Homework
by Dr. Ian Kelleher @ijkelleher

Homework is a contentious issue for many schools. Teachers may want to set more homework than parents would like, or less homework than they are told to by leadership - or vice versa. But one thing we can hopefully agree on is that homework needs to be purposeful and relevant in order to be effective. In this blog post, Dr. Kelleher describes how his school went about researching and designing an effective homework policy.

5) A More Concrete Classroom
by Blake Harvard @effortfuleduktr

A very important but often overlooked effective teaching strategy is that of using concrete examples to explain abstract concepts. A better way of saying that might be that because we probably often use concrete examples in our teaching, we take them for granted and don’t develop them in systematic ways. This can hinder our ability to generate - and help students generate - with illustrative examples that really develop and flesh out students’ understanding of the abstract ideas we are trying to teach them. Mr. Harvard describes a concrete (!) classroom activity that really drills down into the purpose of concrete examples.


Every Sunday, we pick a theme and provide a curated list of links. If you have a theme suggestion, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Occasionally we publish a guest digest, and If you'd like to propose a guest digest click here. Our 5 most recent digests can be found here:

Weekly Digest #111: Nutrition and the Brain

Weekly Digest #112: Critical Thinking

Weekly Digest #113: Achieving Work Life Balance in Teachers

Weekly Digest #114: Productivity

Weekly Digest #115: Open Access Education Journals

GUEST POST: Using Knowledge Organizers as Effective Study Tools

GUEST POST: Using Knowledge Organizers as Effective Study Tools

Optimizing Your Learning Schedule

Optimizing Your Learning Schedule