Articles

THE ATLANTIC

Elementary Education Has Gone Terribly Wrong, August 2019

In the early grades, U.S. schools value reading-comprehension skills over knowledge. The results are devastating, especially for poor kids. …

Why American Students Haven’t Gotten Better at Reading in 20 Years, April 13, 2018

Every two years, education-policy wonks gear up for what has become a time-honored ritual: the release of the Nation’s Report Card. Officially known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, the data reflect the results of reading and math tests administered to a sample of students across the country. Experts generally consider the tests rigorous and highly reliable—and the scores basically stagnant. …

MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

How Classroom Technology Is Holding Students Back, December 19, 2019

In a first grade classroom I visited a few years ago, most of the six-year-olds were using iPads or computers. They were working independently on math problems supposedly geared to their ability, while the teacher worked separately with a small group. I watched as one boy, whom I’ll call Kevin, stared at an iPad screen that directed him to “combine 8 and 3.” A struggling reader (like almost all his classmates), he pressed the “Listen” button. But he still didn’t try to provide an answer. …

PERSPECTIVES ON LANGUAGE AND LITERACY (INTERNATIONAL DYSLEXIA ASSOCIATION) (Co-editor of Fall 2019 issue on “The Importance of Knowledge)

The Connections Between Writing, Knowledge Acquisition, and Reading Comprehension, Fall Edition 2019

Monica was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child … “I didn’t think I was going to go to college because I was special ed,” she told an interviewer, “and special ed kids don’t go to college.” … Just three years later, however, Monica had passed her New York Regents exams in English and American history–scoring an impressive 91 on the latter. Eventually, she not only attended college but graduated with a degree in sociology. ...

FORBES.COM (RECENT POSTS)

Why Teachers Need To Do More Than Have Kids ‘Turn And Talk,’ February 9, 2020

Teachers have been led to believe it’s good practice to have students work in groups or pairs, to boost learning and critical thinking. But too often, students get little or no benefit. …

Teachers Think Kids Need Science And Social Studies—But Still Focus On Reading And Math, January 13, 2020

Educators think it’s important to teach science and social studies to young children. But few spend much time on those subjects—and they often waste a lot of time when they do. …

To Educate Good Citizens, We Need More Than The ‘New’ Civics, January 5, 2020

Everyone agrees civics education needs redefining, but the concept is becoming too broad—and some new initiatives may lead to further polarization. Instead of rethinking civics, we need to rethink basic assumptions about teaching and learning. …

The End Of Education Reform, Or A New Beginning?, December 28, 2019

Have the past ten years been a “lost decade” for education reform? Or is the focus finally shifting to something that might actually work? …

Click here to see a list of all of Natalie’s posts on Forbes.com.

 

CHALKBEAT

The case for teaching about sharks and mummies, not captions and the main idea, August 6, 2019

How do students best learn to read? Equally important, how do students learn to love reading? The Common Core emphasizes reading comprehension skills, like identifying the main idea of a text. Yet in her new book, “The Knowledge Gap,” Natalie Wexler argues that teaching those skills in a vacuum, rather than centering instruction around interesting and rigorous content knowledge, hurts both student achievement and engagement.

 

MINDSHIFT/KQED

How Testing Kids for Skills Can Hurt Those Lacking Knowledge, August 12, 2019

In 1987, two researchers in Wisconsin, Donna Recht and Lauren Leslie, constructed a miniature baseball field and installed it in an empty classroom in a junior high school. They peopled it with four-inch wooden baseball players arranged to simulate the beginning of a game. Then they brought in sixty-four seventh- and eighth-grade students who had been tested both for their general reading ability and their knowledge of baseball. …

 

RESEARCH ED MAGAZINE

Writing and Cognitive Load Theory, June 24, 2019

Cognitive load theory has been described as one of the most important discussions in modern psychology that educators need to be familiar with. Natalie Wexler looks at what the implications of this theory are for the way we teach writing, and what it means in the classroom. …

 

THE GRADE (PHI DELTA KAPPAN)

The Media Blind Spot Hiding a Big Problem in American Classrooms, September 11, 2019

Six years ago, I thought I knew a lot about education. I’d been writing about the topic for several years. And yet I knew nothing about a fundamental and pervasive problem that was undermining the decades-long effort to improve educational outcomes, especially for disadvantaged students: the widespread assumption that teaching kids reading comprehension “skills and strategies” is more important than building their knowledge in subjects like history and science….

 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

How Common Core Can Help in the Battle of Skills vs. Knowledge, August 28, 2015
Standardized tests are commonly blamed for narrowing the school curriculum to reading and math. That’s one reason Congress is considering changes in the law that could lead states to put less emphasis on test scores. But even if we abolished standardized tests tomorrow, a majority of elementary schools would continue to pay scant attention to subjects like history and science. …

 

THE WASHINGTON POST

The inappropriate focus on reading and math hurts students, February 26, 2018
The resignation of D.C. Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson in the wake of two embarrassing scandals at the high school level could provide D.C. schools with an opportunity to change course and regain its reputation as a national model of education reform. But that can only happen if officials recognize the true source of both scandals: elementary school, long considered the bright spot in the system. …

Why Americans can’t write, September 24, 2015
It’s no secret that many Americans are lousy writers. Just ask any college professor or employer, including those at prestigious institutions. With the advent of e-mail, writing ability has become more important than ever, and writing deficiencies have become increasingly apparent. …

 

AMERICAN EDUCATOR (WITH JUDITH C. HOCHMAN)

One Sentence at a Time: The Need for Explicit Instruction in Teaching Students to Write Well, Summer 2017
When Monica entered high school, her writing skills were minimal. After repeating first grade and getting more than 100 hours of tutoring in elementary school, she’d managed to learn to read well enough to get by, and she was comfortable with math. But writing seemed beyond her reach. …