What Works in Schools

I just finished a 3 day workshop sponsored by the school on the research of Robert Marzano and Debra Pickering. The workshop was lead by another of the Marzano group, Bea McGarvey. Bea is an entertaining speaker and shared many insights on the current state of education, and what we could/should do, based on research, to improve what we do.

I think the most important aspect of this workshop is that it will provide everyone in the district with a common framework and language of research-based methods for improving learning. Much of what is in the research is stuff we do, but the research also indicates there are many things we should change or can do better.


There were so many things covered, but here are my top “take-aways” from this week (not necessarily in priority order – just listing things that jumped out):

  • Just as doctors are experts on the human body, mechanics are experts on engine systems and pilots are experts on aerodynamics, teachers need to be experts on learning.
  • We spent quite a lot of time on on the systems of learning, including a model of the systems. I found a connection to the backdrop of learning which included the habits of mind, something I studied via the work of Art Costa.
  • The basis for Marzano’s work is, 1. Students Learn in Different Ways, and 2. Students Learn in Different Time Frames. Pretty straight forward, but Bea purposely put this slide up repeatedly, because if those are the foundationsal principles for learning, then we need to do some things differently.
  • We spent a lot of time on various pieces of the 11 factors that infludence learning (from the perspective of the school, teacher, and student). This research represents the breadth of work that Marzano undertook since his time at MCREL.
  • There are 9 proven strategies that influence learning positiviely: identifying similarities and differences, summarizing and note taking, reinforcing effort and provdiding recognition, homework and practice, nonlinquisitc perpresentations, cooperative learning, setting objective and providing feedback, generating and testing hypothesis, and cues, questions and advance organiziers. We spent time looking at a few of these.
  • Regardless of the strategy used, the goal is learning.

The primary take-aways for me were the reaffirmation of 2 things (which I will post on separately soon…):

  1. We all own all kids in the school (that is, kids come first, and we all have to help every one of them in any way possible).
  2. Learning is why we are here.

Reynolds, Peter H. “Teamwork.” Fablevision. 4 Aug. 2007 http://www.fablevision.com/education/clipart/index.html
FableVision artwork on this web site copyright by Peter Reynolds/FableVision