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Volume 27, Number 1
January/February 2011

Top Ten in 2010


Last year was a banner year for page views here at the Harvard Education Letter. Readers turned out by the thousands to graze on a wide variety of topics from turnaround schools to brain research to one wildly popular blog post on a provocative French film. Who knew?

So without further ado, here are our Top Ten Most Viewed Stories of 2010. Come back and visit often in 2011!

1. Kids Haven’t Changed; Kindergarten Has
New Haven-based journalist Laura Pappano broke news with this story about the Gesell Institute’s 2010 study showing that despite modern efforts to rush the process, developmental “milestones” for most young children have remained stable since 1925.

2. Putting the “Boy Crisis” in Context
Wish you had a nickel for every time you heard that term? Bard College professor and former Ed Letter editor Michael Sadowski takes a deep dive into test scores and other factors to examine the lore and evidence behind the much-hyped “boy crisis” in reading.

3. Scenes from the School Turnaround Movement
This adaptation from Pappano’s new book takes readers through the hallways and offices of turnaround schools in Hartford, Conn., where educators and students are using data as well as their gut to jump-start new learning environments—sometimes making it up as they go.

4. The Differences Between Us: French and American Classrooms

Writer Colleen Gillard enrolled her daughter in a French high school, so she had some personal reactions to share about the French education system depicted in the 2009 movie, “The Class.”

5. Developmentally Appropriate Practice in the Age of Testing

New York-based journalist David McKay Wilson summarizes research reports that raise alarms about the impacts of testing required by NCLB while including ways for incorporating more developmental practices in elementary school.

6. “Platooning” Instruction

How do you meet demands for better teaching of subjects like math in the elementary grades? Journalist Lucy Hood investigates “platooning” in Denver, Colo., Palm Beach, Fla., and other cities—a somewhat esoteric term for the controversial practice of departmentalizing instruction.

7. Small Kids, Big Words
How do you make better readers? Focus on vocabulary; start early. Another winning story by Laura Pappano.

8. Improving Teaching and Learning through Instructional Rounds
Lee Teitel, co-author of Instructional Rounds in Education, writes about how administrators can improve classroom instruction through structured observation.

9. Unleashing the Brain Power of Groups in the Classroom
Most adults today weren’t taught how to work in groups when they were in school. I know I wasn’t. But savvy teachers and neuroscientists are discovering that the human brain was made to collaborate. This story was fun to write.

10. Behind the Classroom Door
Writer Robert Rothman explores what researchers are learning about instructional quality—how and why it differs (especially from classroom to classroom) and what can be done about it.

Bonus feature: The Top Ten Most Viewed Stories Published by the Harvard Education Letter in 2010:

1. Kids Haven’t Changed; Kindergarten Has
2. Putting the ‘Boy Crisis’ in Context
3. Scenes from the School Turnaround Movement
4. Unleashing the Brain Power of Groups in the Classroom
5. “Dumb” Phones. Smart Lessons
6. Online Testing, Version 1.0
7. New Teachers and the Culture Gap
8. Progress and Puzzles in Educational Policy Research
9. Learning Progressions in Science
10. Four Central Dilemmas of Struggling Schools

Nancy Walser is the editor of the Harvard Education Letter.