Category: Dealing With Difficulty


Of Text Complexity, Expectations, and Rodents

“Do you believe that the private thoughts that you have in your head can influence how a rat moves through space?”

This is the question that the Invisibilia podcast hosts (Lulu Miller, Alix Spiegel & Hanna Rosin) posit at the beginning of their episode, How to Become Batman: Part 1. Give it a listen. Rats aside, their findings offer a lot for educators to chew on.

To reword their question just slightly, “Do we believe that the private thoughts that we have […]

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Classroom Environment Part 3: Intellectually Inviting

When I went through my teacher training, back in the Pleistocene age, the hot trends were whole language (which I’m not going to discuss here) and self-esteem (which I am going to discuss here).

To promote self-esteem entire courses and curriculums were developed around helping kids feel good about themselves. There was a big focus on “leveling the playing field” and helping all kids feel successful by removing obstacles, challenges, and competition. This trend backfired (as so many do). It backfired […]

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Collaboration and Environment: The Importance of Productive Struggle, Part 2

Last week we wrestled with our own discomfort in allowing students to struggle with complex texts and difficult tasks and concepts. There is a fine line between providing support without rescuing. This week we will look closer at what that “support without rescue” looks like.

In the Inquiry By Design curriculum, teachers will notice that student collaboration is the main component of support when students are struggling to comprehend a text. When working together, students act as models for each other. […]

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Struggle is Not a Dirty Word: The Importance of Productive Struggle, part 1

By Krista Morrison and Kristi Hemingway

Teachers and administrators often report that the most valuable part of the Inquiry By Design professional development cycle is peer learning labs. Teachers have the opportunity to observe a colleague’s classroom as a lesson from the curriculum is being implemented with students. The goal is not to observe a “model” lesson or “perfect” classroom, but rather to gather data and provide a basis for conversations about teaching and learning.

At a recent lab, middle school students […]

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In Praise of Text Complexity and RI.10

Lately I’ve been following Russell Walsh’s blog Russ on Reading. There’s a lot of intriguing content to be found poking around his site—not the least of which is the list of his own favorite blogs.

As a long-time editor, I was drawn into his most recent post “From Text Complexity to Considerate Text.” There’s much we agree on about “considerate text” and the responsibility of the writer to the reader.

But I can’t go so far to agree that “forcing students to […]

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