Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning

by Mike Schmoker

Number of pages: 237

Publisher: ASCD: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development

BBB Library: Education

ISBN: 9781416611301

About the Author

Schmoker is a former school administrator, English teacher, and football coach. He has written 4 books and many educational articles.


Editorial Review

Best-selling author Mike Schmoker boils down solutions for improved schools to the most powerful, simple actions and structures that ensure you prepare all students for college, careers, and citizenship.

Book Reviews

"In his 2011 book,Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning, he lays out a plan that can be implemented in any school district: a concentrated focus on reading, writing, discussion and thinking across the curriculum." Cult of Pedagogy

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Wisdom to Share

Before the reading of a text, always be sure to teach any vocabulary that could impede understanding.

To create interest in the content of the text, share some background information about the topic, read an interesting selection from the text, or help students to connect it to recent or previous learning.

The next step is to have students practice, by themselves, the same kind of reading, note-taking, or annotation that you’ve just modeled, with the next paragraph or section of text.

Any teacher who got through college or has been in a good book club can read critically and annotate. With a little practice, teachers can quickly learn to model such reading.

The highest-performing teachers never waste a minute of class time.

The highest-performing teachers never waste a minute of class time.

Once students have had the benefit of close reading, annotating, and partner-sharing, they will be eager to discuss and debate issues they find in their textbooks, historical documents, and editorials, or in print and online publications.

All students are always on task. And what they learn differs markedly from the arcane, irrelevant skills found in early-grade reading standards documents.

We know what a sound, coherent curriculum is. Let’s build one for every course we teach, with common assessments, and then actually monitor to ensure that it’s being taught.

We know that students desperately need to do lots of meaningful reading and writing, and that this does not necessitate inordinate amounts of paper grading. Let’s stop making excuses for not doing it.