If we don’t “go slow to go fast,” we’re not likely to get the real changes we’re after, and this is especially true in education. A root cause analysis is a key tool in continuous improvement that can help chart a path forward when addressing a problem of practice.
Bridges Most Loved Articles
With a nod to Valentine’s Day, the Bridges Editorial Committee wanted to share some of our most loved articles! Check out the top articles related to English Language Arts instruction, Mathematics instruction, and Accountable Talk®practices. We hope you take a couple of minutes to (re)read, reflect, and share them!
Robust Vocabulary Instruction
Although there are many approaches to vocabulary instruction, Robust Vocabulary Instruction, a research-based approach developed by Dr. Isabel Beck and Dr. Margaret McKeown, provides students with the rich interaction needed for students to develop true ownership and understanding of words.
Making Connections Beyond the Classroom, Seeing Mathematics in Our Everyday Actions
What might it look like when a teacher works to support students in making connections between their math work, themselves, and the community/world in which they live? We invited a teacher from one of our partnering districts to share stories from their classroom and reflect on the impact connection-making has had on students.
Vending Machine Nourishing Hungry, Young Readers
A book vending machine was introduced to inspire readers at a Texas elementary school and now students are reading at a record pace.
Finding Entry Points Can Unlock Educators’ and Learners’ Potential
A simple question sparked big changes in Nashville. By challenging the thinking of adults, educators can discover new approaches and consider ways to refine their existing approaches to challenge the thinking of their students.
The Science of Reading: Looking Beyond Phonics Instruction
The Science of Reading seems to be everywhere, from literacy research journals to mainstream media outlets. A recent Google search of the science of reading yielded over 4 billion results. Much of what we see and hear focuses on how to support children in their ability to decode words and the importance of systematic phonics instruction. But is that all there is to it? Check out this article to learn more the science of reading, an approach that prioritizes basic science with a scope that encompasses more than just phonics.
Relational Thinking: Text to Text, Self, and World Connections in MATH!
It is common in ELA classrooms for students to leverage relational thinking around text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections. What does this kind of relational thinking look like in math class and how can it benefit students? This article, the second in the series, uses classroom scenarios to look at how these connections provide opportunities for students to become stronger mathematicians and for teachers to implement more equitable teaching practice.
In Their Own Words, Stories from the Field
Here we are mid-October and the excitement and nerves that come with a fresh school year have given way to the joy that grows out of learning and the comfort from predictable classroom routines.
As teachers move further into the year, we wanted to create space to share some of their stories. We reached out to educators and posed the following to questions to get their thoughts.
• What led you to education?
• What goals do you have for the work you do?
• How does your work reflect you?
The following are excerpts from several responses. We invite you to read, pause, celebrate, and reflect on their stories.
Making Space for Student Choice in the Writing Process
Students should have a voice in the writing process. Building students’ writing toolkits and then inviting them into the writing process by asking them to make decisions about how to approach a writing task is one way to do that. In this article, we discuss one way to use gradual release to build student agency in the writing process.
Relational Thinking in Mathematics Classrooms: Numeric and Algebraic Reasoning
People of all ages and in all spaces use relational thinking on a regular basis. Relational thinking, generally speaking, involves using existing understanding to reason about and make sense of novel information or situations to deepen and/or construct new understanding. In recent years, the IFL math team has been exploring ideas related to relational thinking and its role in teaching and learning mathematics for understanding.
Revisiting the Importance of Planning for High-Level Instruction
Check out four of our top ELA articles from the archives! They offer insights into why we advocate to make space for collaboarative instructional planning.
Revisiting Practical Ways to Increase Instructional Equity in Mathematics Classrooms
Check out four of our top math articles from the archives! They offer insights and practical suggestions for making math classrooms more equitable learning spaces for students.
Ptáyela Waúŋspeič’ičhiyapi: Building Cultural Competence and Responsiveness
IFL partner Todd County, South Dakota serves nearly an entirely Indigenous student population. However, their teachers do not reflect that population. To bridge that gap, they are putting their students’ culture at the center of their education.
When a High Assessment Load Prevents Learning
In the time of COVID, so many are worried about learning loss, and because of this concern, assessments quantifying this learning loss are on the rise. The intent is to help bring students back on track, but this response has large negative effects on teaching and learning. Now is the time to give your students’ assessment load a large downsizing.
Teach Test Writing as a Genre
Despite best intentions, test writing sometimes ends up being the formula that students never have to break. In this article, I advocate for teachers to teach test writing as a genre, inviting students to develop knowledge around the features, purpose, and audience of the writing required on standardized tests.
“Esto Si lo Puedo Hacer!”: Creating Opportuinities for Success when Teaching Academic Vocabulary in Mathematics
Too often we hear the suggestion to pre-teach math terms to multilingual students, an action that prefences memorization over meaning making. Though well intended, this approach limits opportunities for students to engage in sense making of the mathematical concepts and relationships they are studying. There is a better and more equitable way! This article shares four pedalogical choices that foster student success in the math classroom while positioning multilingual learners as leaders.
Digging into Analysis Tasks
Planning for analysis tasks means highlighting those gems of an author’s craft found in rich and complex texts. In this article, I describe what we mean when we say analysis task and provide an example of what an analysis task might look like for a complex text.
Combatting Anti-Asian Hate: An Interview with Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan
Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise. Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan describes the historical context for this problem and some actions educators can take to combat anti-Asian hate in their schools and classrooms.
Are You “Wishing” Math Content Knowledge Into Your Students? 6 Questions to Ask Yourself to Find Out
What does it mean to “wish mathematical knowledge” into your students? If reading the title of this article makes you pause, you might be doing it. Take the quiz to find out!
Using Accountable Talk® Features to Think Through the Design of Remote Instruction
Infusing practices from the business of instructional technology with Accountable Talk® features provides a light that can guide the planning of technology-based instruction, helping educators navigate challenges in order to enrich remote learning.
® Accountable Talk is a registered trademark of the University of Pittsburgh.
Increasing Representation by Globalizing School-Based Multicultural Libraries
Students are more engaged when they see themselves in the books they read. IFL partner, Syracuse City Schools, has worked to better represent all their students by expanding their multicultural libraries on a global scale.
IFL Partner in Australia: Is there a better way to teach mathematics?
Working with numbers and mathematical representations! Read about the success that one of our partners is seeing in the land down under.
Planning for High-Level Comprehension
Comprehension work is critical work when we engage students with a text. Understanding and enacting the steps for planning a high-level comprehension task will help teachers provide students instructional opportunities that set every student up for success.
Three Practices that Compliment an Asset-Based Approach to Teaching and Learning in Math Classrooms
While there has been a tremendous amount of schooling loss, students maintain unique funds of knowledge valuable to math classrooms. This article looks at three practices that work in combination to foster safe, student-centered learning environments as students return to school having unique and varied lived experiences.
Defining the Post-Pandemic New Normal: 6 Things to Think About for School Reopening
Examining ways that school systems can rethink preparation for high-stakes testing, so that it does not highjack the rest, can help establish a post-pandemic new normal. Based on our research-informed work in schools and classrooms, no matter how well-intended, the current system of rewards and sanctions tied to test scores has negatively impacted opportunities for meaningful, high-quality learning experiences that prepare learners for college, career, and community engagement. This has disproportionately impacted students of color, those impacted by poverty, and multi-language learners.
Making Space for Creativity Using A Mathematics Lesson Routine
Creativity in mathematics abounds at the intersection of belief and practice! When the belief that all learners are doers of mathematics and enter the classroom with valuable lived math experiences intersects with the use of a lesson routine that offers space for students to do the thinking, learners become the creators and authors of the material from which they learn.
Liberating Your Summer Readers
A district’s goal for summer reading should be to help students continue to build their independent reading skills and to foster a love of reading. Students who take up summer reading typically have access to compelling books and choice in what they read (Shin & Krashen, 2008). To achieve a reading program with books that engage students, student voice should be central to summer reading lists.
IFL Partner Sees Success Amid Chaotic Year
Coinciding with the one-year anniversary of COVID shutting down classrooms across the country, Warner Arts Magnet Elementary in Nashville shares the trials and tribulations they faced, what kept them motivated, and how the IFL work has been a “life-changing” experience that played a key role in providing a quality education.
Questioning the Author: A Powerful Approach to Promote Student Understanding of Complex Texts
Questioning the Author is a discussion-based approach that supports students in studying and understanding complex texts. Comprehension work is an essential piece of any text-based task. If students don’t get the gist of the text or grasp an author’s ideas, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to do deeper analytic and interpretive work. It is especially important for emerging readers and emergent multi-lingual (EML) students to be able to access the big ideas of a text while building their comprehension muscles.
Accountable Talk® Discussions: Solidifying Knowledge and Engaging in Rigorous Thinking Alongside Others in a Collaborative Community
Accountable Talk discussions require teachers and their students to support one another and mutually create a classroom community committed to using and building accurate knowledge and engaging in rigorous thinking. Everyone involved understands and is accountable for respecting each other and the learning community, as a whole. This begins with recognizing and honoring each person’s different lived experiences because every person brings vital knowledge and valuable assets to the learning community. This article provides a general understanding of Accountable Talk discussions and serves as a basis to begin exploring this high-leverage practice.
Moving from Quick Write to Essay: Using Student-Centered Routines to Support Writing
Teachers can use writing routines to support student writers by creating a sort of conversation between the student writer and the text. This article examines how a set of well sequenced student routines allows students to use writing to express what they know in connection with what they learn from the text.
Organizing Instructional Tasks with Landing Pages
Teachers have found great success using landing pages to organize learning for students across one text or across multiple texts in a unit. A landing page is a page on a website where students “land” to do their work or engage in a task. Landing pages, much like task sheets, provide students with both the why and the what of an instructional task. They support more equitable access to instructional activities by making expectations clear and providing step-by-step guidance for students as they engage in learning.