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  • The E3 Group

Teacher-explicit or student-led instruction – does it really matter?

Measures of River Forest student achievement in reading were steadily rising until 2016 when the Board decided it was time to “take the sage off the stage”, a dubious way of describing District 90’s switch from a teacher-led instructional philosophy to one that became student-centered through all new curricula and rules for teachers. The Journeys reading curriculum relies on teacher-explicit instruction and was used up until the district adopted Lucy Calkins Readers Workshop. The Calkins curriculum “takes a constructivist approach, minimizing direct instruction” writes Sara Schwartz for EducationWeek, and has been the center of controversy. Math Expressions uses a traditional “teacher to student” pathway for learning and, like Journeys, was replaced by the Investigations curriculum that instead uses a “between-students “or student-led pathway for learning. Student achievement reading and math have plummeted in District 90 since the switch. One concerned RF parent pointed out a podcast that does a wonderful job explaining the difference in effectiveness between explicit instruction and ideas originating with students. A no-brainer? He says "knowledge is something that turns experience into something valuable" and he is Paul A. Kirschner, expert on the science of how children learn. In this one-hour podcast Kirschner cuts through the jargon and paints a clear picture for parents that should help explain at least some of the changes to curriculum and instruction in River Forest. Click the link to listen.


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