Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning

Focus Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning Best selling author Mike Schmoker boils down solutions for improved schools to the most powerful simple actions and structures that ensure you prepare all students for college careers and citizensh

  • Title: Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning
  • Author: Mike Schmoker
  • ISBN: 9781416611301
  • Page: 204
  • Format: Paperback
  • Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning

    Best selling author Mike Schmoker boils down solutions for improved schools to the most powerful, simple actions and structures that ensure you prepare all students for college, careers, and citizenship.

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      Posted by:Mike Schmoker
      Published :2019-02-22T23:34:12+00:00

    One thought on “Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning

    1. Chad

      The book was given to my girlfriend as an end of the year gift (and required reading)by her high performing charter school.The thesis is that there are three things that truly matter in raising student achievement; what we teach, how we teach it and authentic literacy. Until those three elements in place and implemented properly, we should not think about implementing any other educational fads or nostrum.I agree with the thesis and appreciate the shout out that Schmoker gives to consortium scho [...]

    2. Ken

      First things first. The ASCD charges obscene prices for its books. This thin paperback is almost $28, for instance. I bought the Kindle version for $15 and STILL felt slightly taken. Slightly.Second, get ready for repetition, get ready for repetition. Don't let it annoy you because Schmoker does it a lot (and even admits as much himself). He has a rather simple solution to education's woes and he's going to bang the drum for it six ways to Sunday. At least it's well-documented. And, as I read it [...]

    3. ConnieKuntz

      I enjoyed this one, too. Lots of emphasis on reading, reviewing, inferring, debating, and writing. I have to write this review in a hurry so I am just going to list my favorite points below:The craft of writing begins with the second draft.Infer, infer, infer! The author places a very strong emphasis on natural reading, which includes great amounts of inferring.Kids love issues, especially if they are framed in controversy. (This is definitely true in my house. The latest controversy that they e [...]

    4. Damon Barnhurst

      I cannot believe I got this from my school! In a world of teaching to the test, massive standards, worksheets, and wasteful activities, this book slams all of that. The underlining message of this book is to get students to read and write as often as possible. For example, teachers stress too much on teaching students if they should add "ed" or "ing" to a word than spending actual time reading, writing , and discussing real books. I will use this book to support some of the changes I will be pus [...]

    5. Lora

      These strategies seem obvious to me, though it's nice to be reinforced by an expert. Read -- a lot, with variety -- talk about what you read, write about what you read, and read some more. Seems simple enough. Getting all the bits to come together, given time limitations, and both teacher and student attitudes is a whole other ball game. I'll be coming back to particular parts of this one.

    6. Amy

      I gave this a three simply because the title reminds us to focus on the essentials, and Schmoker reminds us of the simplicity and importance of authentic literacy in all classrooms. Reading and writing in all classrooms is essential to learning and to maintaining literacy levels. Additionally, the new Common Core standards (which are more simplistic, at least compared to our old state standards) focus on creating and supporting arguments, which Schmoker emphasized throughout. As far as a magic b [...]

    7. Sierra

      I was pretty disappointed with this book. Although I agree with Schmoker when he argues that there are too many standards and that reading is essential to academic success, these thoughts are nothing new. I also found the book to be riddled with contradictions. Schmoker repeatedly mentions the importance of teachers from the same content area and grade level having the exact same curriculum, but then he writes that there should be two weeks in each semester left for teachers to focus on somethin [...]

    8. Canadian Reader

      Noting that the students from Finland, Japan, and China who lead the world academically are part of educational systems where instructors teach more intensely to fewer standards, Schmoker advocates that teams of teachers within American schools examine standards for their particular subject areas and carefully reduce them by half to a set of workable "power standards". He opines that the U.S. educational system is shortchanging students in terms of literacy because too many boards and administra [...]

    9. Katie

      I agree with Schmoker that students need to authentically read and write more in school. We all know that basal readers are not the answer. We need to get students into real books and have real discussions about those books. I very much like his approach to the languages arts and history periods. However, I have a few disagreements on the science and math chapters. He stated that he helped a 6th grade team of science teachers cut the science standards in half and then further cut the physical sc [...]

    10. Jfhirsch

      This book was a suggested reading at my school. I found that the things that were said that I agreed with were that students need more time on task reading in school, and that students need more time writing in school. This is nothing new. For the most part, I disagreed with lots of what was said beyond those two points. Small group instruction is very important, and differentiation is necessary, as not every child learns in the same way. Also, Schmoker seems to think that standardized tests are [...]

    11. Lindsey Duncan

      This was an interesting read. I'm sure all of my educator friends out there would appreciate it. While there wasn't a lot of new information in it, it did speak a lot to today's school districts. The message behind this book is stripping away the teaching for standardized testing, and teaching the basics: reading and writing. It reminded me a lot of Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, although I enjoyed her book more and felt like she had better examples of how to teach in the classroom, comple [...]

    12. Joe Wood

      Initially, I couldn't decide whether I loved or hated this book. By the end I came to appreciate Schmoker's thoughts on instructional practice. Overall, its a strong text for helping practitioners reflect on their own classrooms. I especially enjoyed the conversation about authentic literacy and believe it's an understudied topic in science, history, and math education. I only wish Schmoker provided a little more meat through research data and concrete examples from additional classrooms. I also [...]

    13. Matt

      The title aptly describes this text. Schmoker keeps a laser-like focus on three topics throughout the book: A common curriculum, sound lessons, and authentic literacy. It amazes me that this book is needed when we know so much about the importance of these concepts for student learning. Yet it is needed. Schools are so susceptible to the initiaitve du jour. Focuswill help teachers and leaders stay the course.

    14. Kristin

      Wow, another great read for teachers. Would love to read with staff members since a lot of what it suggest would work best school wide.Read this again and still holds true. Must read for all educators.

    15. Melissa Mannon

      This is boring and repetitive. The title is the main point. the sub-points should be bulleted on a page and a few pages of samples can be provided. This is article length material stretched into a book.

    16. Chase Parsley

      This is a colossally refreshing book well worth reading for any teacher or person interested in education! Mike Schmoker gives us a see-through-the-b.s. view on the state of education today and how teachers can improve their teaching. I plan on implementing a lot of these basics in my classroom.Schmoker is all about teaching the fundamentals and emphasizes the importance of reading and writing. Instead of complicated standards and strategies, he demonstrates that plain old reading, writing, and [...]

    17. Sarah

      Mike Schmoker delivers a solid guide to improving teaching by focusing on what most teachers would consider the most basic of tasks, including reading and annotating, discussion, and writing. He offers case studies to back up his claims and presents easy-to-follow guidelines to recreate his ideas in the classroom, but (then again) most teachers know exactly what to do. His guide goes from curriculum to implementation of assignments. His honest approach to what works, what doesn't, and focus on t [...]

    18. Tawnua Tenley

      There are some very good ideas regarding literacy across all content areas and some good thoughts about the best methods for constructing a lesson and for re-organizing and simplifying curricular standards. However, the text was very repetitive and a little preachy with several frustrated-sounding asides about the education the author's daughters received. The repeated suggestion that students will love the type of teaching he describes was also questionable, especially if the structure never va [...]

    19. Mandy

      It was better that I thought it would be. It has some practical advice for getting students more involved in learning and doesn't fall into the trap of blaming any one group for what so many see as failure of education in our society.

    20. Jessyca

      It's what we did at Truman. Focus on the balance of literacy with what we taught in the content. It's not rocket science, but maybe for some it is? Maybe I am a "lucky one" where it has always just made sense? When I was in the classroom, teaching science, I did so many literacy strategies it was insane! ( Or just good teaching). We always had Science Current event Friday's, I read Current Science magazine with my kiddos using a jigsaw, I read to my students (a novel like "Howliday Inn" when we [...]

    21. Mike

      This is quite simply the best book on curriculum and instruction that I’ve ever read… and it didn’t tell me anything I don’t already know. In Focus, Schmoker makes the case for radically simplifying our curriculum and standards (what we teach), and deliver them through well- but simply designed lessons (how we teach). The above, coupled with a commitment to quality, consistent reading, writing, and discussion will benefit all students, and will pay off in terms of student achievement… [...]

    22. Kristen

      This is a good book in that the main premise is we should STOP doing all initiatives until we have focused on the basics of having a strong curriculum, strong lessons, and strong instruction. If we would do these three things consistently, as well as emphasize reading and writing across all disciplines, we wouldn't see the achievement gap that we do now. It's a get back to basics without losing sophistication of thought type of argument that I can support. I think his idea to streamline standard [...]

    23. Scott Hayden

      Schmoker nails it. After my own 12 years of teaching experience and now 2 years as director of curriculum and instruction, I have to say, I wish I could go back and teach again. He cuts through trend fluff to remind us of what makes learning happen. And the core activities of learning and their core counterpart activities of teaching have not changed.Interestingly, Schmoker does here for educators what Rainer (See "Simple Church") does for church leaders: sets our sights on WHAT we want students [...]

    24. Lynn Green

      Mike Schmoker's book on education curriculum calls for a simplification of what we teach and that we make reading and writing the center of our teaching. As an English Language Arts teacher it is easy for me to be in his choir. However, he makes the case that reading, annotating, reflecting, discussing, and writing should be at the heart of all core subjects including science and math. He disdains differentiated instruction and calls for extensive reading on the order of 10-15 or more books, at [...]

    25. Christina

      I'm not a huge fan of the book, but I did find some value in Schmoker points. I agree that there are definitely too many standards & they we're probably better off focusing on those that we consider to be "power standards" and will have the most impact on our students. I also agree with his notion that our students need to be reading more & have more authentic reading experiences that are filled with modeling, guided practice, independent practice, and lots of discussion. However, Schmok [...]

    26. Peter

      Completely simplifies and demystifies how our teachers should be teaching core subjects so that our students are ready for college and careers upon graduation.1) Agree upon a viable core curriculum2) Teach well-crafted lessons (Activate prior knowledge; I do, we do, you do delivery loop, with plenty of formative assessment throughout)3) Ensure that authentic literacy (close reading and writing) permeates everything we do at school, including in History, Science, and Math.That's it. The data prov [...]

    27. Manderson

      I really like Schmoker's overall emphasis here on a strong and literacy rich curriculum across content areas and agree with it strongly. I also felt that some of his suggestions for implementation were useful, and aim to bring some selections from his book to my 8th grade team for further study. I felt sometimes like his tone was a bit overly strident, even when I agreed with him, and I was annoyed by his constant insistence on referring to "national" standards. While I fully agree with his poin [...]

    28. Claudia

      Schmoker acts as a role model in this book, by closely focusing his message. His message is very disciplined, and works across grade levels and content areasRead the core standards for your area. Cross out all the verbs, choose 50% of the nouns that you believe are vital. Teach those nouns by doing close reading of varied texts, have discussions based on the close reading and annotation of the texts, and write to those texts that have been read closely, annotated, and discussed. There it is. He [...]

    29. Nancy

      Mike Schmoker poses and responds to this question: What if we were to really focus our teaching, so that students could interact with and learn from a quality curriculum and excellent lessons? His answer is what constitutes "Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning." And wowhis answer is stimulating, encouraging and uplifting. He urges us to really think about the essentials in curricula and then consider deeply how those essentials would be taught in content area cl [...]

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