Mosaic of Thought, by Ellin Keene and Susan Zimmermann, became a runaway best-seller as the first book to explicitly describe the use and benefits of strategy-based comprehension instruction. To recognize the 20th anniversary of the book, Tom Newkirk, who served as editor, recently sat down with Ellin Keene to revisit how Mosaic of Thought came to be and the impact it had on education.
Adapted from No More Telling as Teaching: Less Lecture, More Engaged Learning by Cris Tovani and Elizabeth Birr Moje.
Why should we care about whether teachers rely on lecture? People have lectured throughout history, and many teachers claim this is the most efficient way to cover content. And, in fact, in and of itself the lecture is not a bad method for sharing information, ideas, or perspectives. Many people share their thoughts with others through lectures.
Because learners can participate in well-framed and well-structured lectures for which they have a clear sense of purpose, it is not the lecture that we challenge but rather a conception of learning that makes the teacher the knowledge disseminator and the students receptacles waiting to be filled. Specifically, we challenge the steady diet of teachers and textbooks (or other media) telling, with students regurgitating what they have been told.
Like many English teachers, grading essays remains the part of my job that I enjoy the least. It isn’t just because of the time it consumes or the drudgery it involves. It’s because I’m afraid I’m going to do harm to a student writer under my care.
Years ago, my oldest son was in my sophomore honors English class filled with many of his friends. These were kids I had watched grow up since the second grade, kids who spent time at my house, played in my backyard, making crazy zombie movies that disturbed the neighbors, and now traveled with us to debate tournaments early on Saturday mornings. Perhaps because of my long connection to this group of kids, I put extra effort into grading these students’ essays, spending many Saturdays marking errors and giving copious feedback while I waited to judge rounds at debate tournaments. I knocked myself out for these kids.
Two years of planning. 68 educators. One pilgrimage.
In October 2012, Matt Glover, Renee Dinnerstein, Kathy Collins and a diverse group of educators, ranging from administrators to preservice graduate students, set off to the town of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy. There, they immersed themselves in a journey toward understanding the Reggio Emilia School’s social constructivist philosophy of child-centered teaching, and brought home inspired reflections holding more than just new ideas for teaching, learning, and literacy.
When lists of standards for school achievement are made, nobody seems concerned that happiness is not on the list. It would be easy to make the case for it, though. Happy children are better learners, healthier people, and better earners when they leave school (Lyubomirsky, King, and Diener 2005; Peterson, Park, and Seligman 2005). But the omission points to a much larger problem. Children live at least twelve years of their lives in school, and their experiences influence every aspect of their development and well-being—the intellectual, the emotional, the psychological, and the social (Eccles and Roeser 2011). While we are busy teaching children to read and write, the students are also trying to make sense of being human. Pressures to focus on the “basics” and “academic rigor” often distract us, and we forget that healthy development and well-being require children to experience a sense of autonomy, relatedness, and competence (Ryan and Deci 2000).
—Peter Johnston and Gay Ivey