5 Questions

Five Questions with UNI Professor Matt Townsley

Categories: Assessment, Authors

Credit: UNI News Services

(Note: This interview originally appeared on Inside UNI, the University of Northern Iowa’s online communications channel. It has been republished with permission from UNI News Services.)

UNI professor Matt Townsley wants to see an education revolution. In his upcoming book “Making Grades Matter,” co-written with Nathan Wear, the UNI educational leadership assistant professor lays out the path for middle and high schools to abandon traditional letter grades in favor of a standards-based grading model. In this conversation, he outlines his case for why schools should rethink the way they think about grades and learning. Read more

Ambitious Learning

What We Talk About When We Talk About Ambitious Instruction, Part II: What about Ambitious Learning?

Categories: Authors, Instruction

Ambitious Instruction, my new book, has a relatively straightforward (phew) definition of rigor: there is academic rigor, which is simply the completion of a task or work at a quality level commensurate with the expectations articulated in the standard(s) said task addresses or is aligned to; and instructional rigor, the curricular and pedagogical practices that position and enable students to realize the cognitive demands of those learning targets. Read more

Asking Questions? Teaching Inquiry?

Are You Asking Questions, or Teaching Inquiry?

Categories: Authors, Instruction

Asking questions—good questions—is, arguably, the basis for a curious, passionate classroom. There is no way to explain that feeling when a classroom is erupting in enthusiastic discussion. It is magical, both for the teacher and for the students.

However, asking questions and teaching inquiry are often misconstrued as the same thing. If I’m asking thought-provoking, open-ended questions, I must be teaching inquiry. Not necessarily. Read more

Ambitious Instruction

What We Talk About When We Talk About ‘Ambitious Instruction’, Part I

Categories: Authors, Instruction

Ambitious Instruction,” the title of my newest book, is not a buzzword. The education world does not need another buzzword; we have plenty as is.

I’ll confess, though, that “ambitious instruction” certainly sounds like a buzzword. I’ll also confess that the term was derived in the jargony annals of academia; it also has the sort of vagary and specificity that sounds like yet another (gulp) buzzword. (You have my complete forgiveness if you’re raising an eyebrow right now.) Read more

Cyberbulling, picture of a phone screen with insults

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How Can I Prevent Cyberbullying Among My Students?

Categories: 21st Century Skills, Authors

Based on Pyramid of Behavior Interventions: 7 Keys to a Positive Learning Environment

Perhaps the single most rapidly growing behavioral issue facing schools today is cyberbullying.

Most teenagers today have grown up never knowing a world without smartphones. The Pew Research Center reports that 95 percent of all teens currently have access to or own a smartphone, and 45 percent indicate they are online almost constantly. That leaves educators with the nearly impossible challenge of teaching those whose attentions are divided, with their thoughts wandering to their devices. Read more