Articles, Books and Research That Guide Us

As teachers we have all had those moments that have greatly influenced us. This post shares a few of the articles and books that have guided the educators at gotLearning.

Carl Anderson’s book How’s it Going?

The question “How’s it Going?” is so incredibly powerful when you use it with a student. I was lucky enough to watch Carl work with students in my classroom! He truly used the phrase “How’s it Going?” with the students. What happened next was 10 minutes of masterful conferring with 4 students during a writing lesson. The learning conversations he had with them provided incredible feedback that as goal-referenced and actionable. This experience and the book really helped me realize that conversations with a student is where so much learning occurs.

Available from the publisher’s website.

Grant Wiggin’s article
Seven Keys to Effective Feedback

Grant Wiggin’s article “Seven Keys to Effective Feedback” is pure gold in regard to what feedback is and what it is not. Our favorite part of the article:

Feedback Essentials:
Whether feedback is just there to be grasped or is provided by another person, helpful feedback is goal-referenced; tangible and transparent; actionable; user-friendly (specific and personalized); timely; ongoing; and consistent.”

You have to read the article to get examples of each of the essentials. Available on the ASCD website.


Paula Rutherford’s Instruction for All Students

Besides this being written by my first year mentor teacher, this is my go to “If I was teaching on a desert island what book would you bring?” answer. One of my favorite quotes is:

“A wise educator said: We will conduct all of our interactions with students based on the most current data, research and current thinking in our field. When this information changes we will change our practice.” Paula continues with “I do not believe that this statement in any way implies that we should continue to hop from bandwagon to bandwagon looking for materials and programs that will ensure quick fixes or successes. Quite the contrary. It means that we must constantly reach out to analyze, reflect on and react to the massive body of research on teaching and learning that comes not only from those doing formal research, but also from those of us working directly with students.”

This book is dog-eared, coffee stained and been referenced more than any other book I own.

For more information visit the Just ASK Publications & Professional Development website.

Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s Understanding by Design

Over 20 years later, Understanding by Design is still influencing the thinking and planning of educators worldwide. The premise is simple in process but profound in its impact. Plan backwards from your goals and base your goals on transferable performances of understanding. Assess student performance against the goals throughout the learning process and use feedback to help students as they learn and grow. UbD’s “think like an assessor” is fundamental to the development of gotLearning and educators who are familiar with the tenets of UbD will comfortably incorporate this platform into their educational practice. 


Bruce Oliver’s article “Growth-Producing Feedback”

Bruce Oliver’s wife Nancy was my 8th grade counselor – she was (and still is awesome). When I was a K12 technology training specialist I was lucky enough to work with Bruce when he was a middle school principal. His article title “Growth Producing Feedback” is a must read for all teachers. While there are tons of resources to explain in detail the importance of feedback, this article is the perfect spark for a teacher to immediately change and improve their practice. The best part is the Growth-Producing Feedback Discussion Tool that you can use with your colleagues to talk about what is and is not growth-producing feedback via nearly 50 practical examples. In my teaching and athletic coaching I consistently refer back to the phrase “Growth-Producing Feedback” to make sure that what I am providing is goal-oriented, emphasizing progress, timely and did I give them specific actionable items to use to improve?

The full article is available from Just ASK Publications & Professional Development’s website.

John Hattie’s book Visible Learning

This seminal book is a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses that provides research to the absolute importance of feedback. My absolute favorite sentence in this book describes why gotLearning was built in the first place – which Hattie refers to the “what happens next” phase of learning. Here is the entire paragraph with my favorite sentence bolded:

“As will be argued throughout this book, the act of teaching reaches it epitome of success after the lesson has been structured, after the content has been delivered, and after the classroom has been organized. The art of teaching, and its major successes, relate to “what happens next” – the manner in which the teacher reacts to how the student interprets, accommodates, rejects, and/or reinvents the content and skills, how the student relates and applies the content to other tasks, and how the student reacts in light of success or failure apropos the content and the methods that the teacher has taught.

This points totally to the learning conversation. The back and forth between the student and teacher(s) is the “what happens next” – the “art of teaching and its major successes”. This sums up why I built the first version of gotLearning as a middle school teacher.

John Hattie’s Visible Learning is available from his website.