Research

My research focuses on classroom practices, opportunities, and activities that foster language, literacy, cognition, and content understandings. At the heart of this research is looking for ways in which we can help all students develop into the best people they can be through classroom instruction and assessment. 

One of the principal models for engaging in classroom research is the use of an inquiry cycle such as the one shown on the right. In the center of this process is the main question to be answered, which consists of three parts: what to change, evidence of this change, and the strategy used. Of course, it's much messier than this model depicts, but the diagram and its points help to focus the research efforts and data gathering. In my work with many teachers and schools, several interesting findings have emerged:

  • Students have few opportunities to put their ideas into multi-sentence responses during school lessons.
  • Students often do things because they have to do them for school, not because they are engaged in building and communicating the ideas.
  • There are very few productive back and forth conversations between students; students tend to lack conversation skills to hold conversations; conversation prompts and tasks need to be improved.
  • Effective conversations provide students with lots of language input and output.
  • Teachers are very interested in using talk to learn and using content to develop advanced speaking and conversation skills
  • Communication-based teaching requires: engaging purposes, information gaps, attention to language, and content to talk about.
  • There are many missed opportunities in content area lessons to develop academic language and literacy.

The ideas, resources, and tools on this site stem from my ongoing research and the findings of many other researchers on classroom language and literacy. See the Resources page.