How to choose the best eight articles from all the fine manuscripts published in Educational Leadership in a school year? Admittedly, it is tough to select just one piece from each theme issue, but, to provide a level of objectivity, we relied on a few guiding questions. Which articles most clicked with our 160,000+ readers? Did any of these articles win critical acclaim? Finally, which articles would be most likely to find their place on a hot-topics list—a list of issues that educators (not necessarily policymakers or pundits) care about and find most relevant to their daily work? So here, free and open for reading a second time or for sharing with your colleagues, are the editors’ picks.
Not Your Parents' Homework
In "Five Hallmarks of Good Homework," Cathy Vatterott shows that by rethinking the typical assignment, educators make learning more meaningful. This "new" homework is not busywork but is challenging, and it inspires practice but not massive amounts of parental nagging. Vatterott's article earned an Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) Distinguished Achievement Award. (See a complete list of awards that EL won in 2010 for both editorial and design excellence.)
Interventions that Work
In "Flagged for Success," Robyn Jackson investigates ways to efficiently target and support struggling students before they become mired in failure. She shows teachers how to set up a system of "red flags": teacher-chosen, hard-to-ignore signals that identify academic concerns and trigger specific interventions. Judging solely by the number of visits to the digital issue of EL, this theme issue of EL was the most popular this past year.
The Equity Gap
Of all the equity concerns addressed in our "Closing Opportunity Gaps" theme issue, the gender gap generated the most talk-back on blogs and other social media. Lise Eliot counters a recent upsurge in concerns about boys' achievement with background about the gender differences in children's brains. Her conclusion: The research does not support teaching boys and girls in vastly different ways. To read pro and con views, go to Inservice, ASCD's blog and read posts by Michael Gurian and Lise Eliot. Eliot's "The Myth of Pink and Blue Brains" won an AEP Distinguished Achievement award.
The Effectiveness Factor
That the quality of teaching matters most in achievement gains has become a truism with an unexpected kick this past year. The research about effective teaching has frequently been cited as a reason to fire teachers in failing schools. In "Notes from an Accidental Teacher," we are reminded that there is no off-the-shelf blueprint for building a highly successful teacher. Carol Ann Tomlinson details the insights she arrived at on her lifelong route as she encourages educators who are just starting that journey.
Technology has the power to revolutionize learning for the better. But how do teachers reach the generation born with smartphones in hand? In "Teaching the iGeneration," Larry D. Rosen suggests that every educator could use a knowledge broker—someone to help identify appropriate online resources that connect with both the curriculum and today's students. "Technology is all about engagement," he reminds us. (Our readers quickly notified us that the media specialist down the hall might be the classroom teacher's ideal knowledge broker, and Rosen concurs.)
This issue, "Teaching Screenagers," with its multiple ideas for connecting technology and learning was awarded an APEX Award of Excellence.
Right to Read
"We can teach almost every student to read by the end of 1st grade." When Richard L. Allington makes this statement, one can hear his urgency—and he has the research to support his contention. In "What At-Risk Students Need," he outlines the steps schools must take, which include identifying kindergarten children on Day 1 who are likely to have difficulties reading and offering them trained reading teachers and expert tutors if necessary. Read his article to find out what research says works and doesn’t in early reading.
In an effort to help students navigate the crossroads they reach in school, our issue on "The Transition Years" covered a lot of ground: from preschool to beyond high school. We include here Rick Wormeli's article, "Moving' Up to the Middle" because, as he writes, "The way we handle life in later years can often be traced back to specific experiences in middle schools. It's that transformative." He offers 20 strategies that benefit early adolescents as they make the transition from elementary to secondary school.
All in the Community
In our issue on "School, Families, Communities," authors bring home the fact that schools cannot educate students without the participation and support of citizens. In "Involvement or Engagement?" Larry Ferlazzo reminds us that philanthropy and government mandates do not necessarily motivate the public to participate in education reform. He proposes strategies that will result in lasting reform that the public will support.
We hope that you enjoy these fine articles and will revisit these and other archived articles online and in digital format this summer. EL will be back with a new issue in all three formats—print, online, and digital—in the last week of August.