sábado, 22 de marzo de 2014

Reading test: Why tough teachers get good results

This is an adaptation to the Wall Street Journal article Why Tough Teachers get good results, by Joanna Lipman published on 23 September 2013 and which I came across through The Prop Room.

We are going to do a multiple matching reading comprehension activity based on the article. You will be given a number of headings and you will have to match each heading with the corresponding paragraph. There is one heading you don’t need to use and another heading is used as an example.

A) A little pain is good for you. – 0
B) Creativity can be learned.
C) Drill, baby, drill.
D) Failure is an option.
E) Praise makes you weak.
F) Resolve and determination trump talent.
G) stress makes you strong.
H) Strict is better than nice. 


The conventional wisdom holds that teachers are supposed to tease knowledge out of students, rather than pound it into their heads. Projects and collaborative learning are applauded; traditional methods like lecturing and memorization are dismissed as a surefire way to suck young minds dry of creativity and motivation.
But the conventional wisdom is wrong. And the following eight principles explain why.
True expertise requires teachers who give "constructive, even disturbing, feedback," as Dr. Ericsson put it in a 2007 Harvard Business Review article. He assessed research on top performers in fields ranging from violin performance to surgery to computer programming to chess. And he found that all of them "deliberately picked unsentimental coaches who would challenge them and drive them to higher levels of performance."
Rote learning, long discredited, is now recognized as one reason that children whose families come from India (where memorization is still prized) are creaming their peers in the National Spelling Bee Championship. This cultural difference also helps to explain why students in China (and Chinese families in the U.S.) are better at math. Meanwhile, American students struggle with complex math problems because, as research makes abundantly clear, they lack fluency in basic addition and subtraction—and few of them were made to memorize their times tables.
Kids who understand that not succeeding is a necessary aspect of learning actually perform better. In a 2012 study, 111 French sixth-graders were given anagram problems that were too difficult for them to solve. One group was then told that not getting the problems right and trying again are part of the learning process. On subsequent tests, those children consistently outperformed their peers.
What makes a teacher successful? To find out, starting in 2005 a team of researchers led by Claremont Graduate University education professor Mary Poplin spent five years observing 31 of the most highly effective teachers (measured by student test scores) in the worst schools of Los Angeles, in neighborhoods like South Central and Watts. Their No. 1 finding: "They were tough," she says. "None of us expected that."
The researchers had assumed that the most effective teachers would lead students to knowledge through collaborative learning and discussion. Instead, they found disciplinarians who relied on traditional methods of explicit instruction, like lectures.
The rap on traditional education is that it kills children's' imagination. But Temple University psychology professor Robert W. Weisberg's research suggests just the opposite. Prof. Weisberg has studied inventive geniuses including Thomas Edison, Frank Lloyd Wright and Picasso—and has concluded that there is no such thing as a born genius. Most geniuses work ferociously hard and, through a series of incremental steps, achieve things that appear (to the outside world) like epiphanies and breakthroughs.
The bottom line, Prof. Weisberg told me, is that originality goes back in many ways to the basics. "You have to immerse yourself in a discipline before you innovate in that discipline. It is built on a foundation of learning the discipline, which is what your music teacher was requiring of you."
In recent years, University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth has studied spelling bee champs, Ivy League undergrads and cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.—all together, over 2,800 subjects. In all of them, she found that grit—defined as passion and perseverance for long-term goals—is the best predictor of success.
Prof. Duckworth believes that grit can be taught. One surprisingly simple factor, she says, is optimism—the belief among both teachers and students that they have the ability to change and thus to improve. In a 2009 study of newly minted teachers, she rated each for optimism (as measured by a questionnaire) before the school year began. At the end of the year, the students whose teachers were optimists had made greater academic gains.
Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck has found that 10-year-olds being complimented became less confident. But kids told that they were "hard workers" became more confident and better performers.
"The whole point of intelligence recognition is to boost confidence and motivation, but both were gone in a flash," wrote Prof. Dweck in a 2007 article in the journal Educational Leadership. "If success meant they were smart, then struggling meant they were not."

A little pain is good for you. – 0
Creativity can be learned. – 4
Drill, baby, drill. – 1
Failure is an option. - 2
Praise makes you weak. – 6
Resolve and determination trump talent. – 5
stress makes you strong.
Strict is better than nice. - 3