Learning from learners' mistakes

Siegfried Engelmann, a University of Oregon education professor who invented Direct Instruction, talks about learning from students’ mistakes on Children of the Code. Teachers must analyze mistakes carefully, he argues.

They’re telling you with their mistakes what you as the teacher are doing wrong. . . . you need to look at their mistakes for qualitative information about what you need to change in your instruction to teach it right.

For example, a lot of corrective reading programs try to avoid the things that give kids problems. No! The key is to teach it properly and confront it.

Many poor readers are the victims of “dys-teachia,” Engelmann says. It’s a fascinating interview.

Update: “With quality reading instruction and intervention, 98 percent of all kids can be reading at grade level by the end of 1st or 2nd grade,” says Richard Allington in EdWeek. Only 25 percent of kindergarten and first-grade teachers are highly skilled at teaching reading, Allington estimates.

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  1. Lesley Stevens says:

    Wait: “a lot of corrective reading programs try to avoid the things that give kids problems.” Seriously? Is this really true? What the heck kind of teaching is that?

  2. But note that Engelmann and Allington have very different ideas about what kind of teaching is effective. My money’s on Engelmann. In addition, in what world would we actually have (or want) children using four different versions of a textbook to learn allegedly the same content?


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