Differentiating Instruction for English Learners: Developing Instructional Capacity

Reading List: Effective Classroom Practices

**Chapter 6: The Design of Learning Environments in Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (Eds.) (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school, (pp. 131-154.) Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Available at http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=9853&page=131


Based on a review of the research on learning, this National Research Council Panel report on the science of learning outlines a framework for effective learning environments, specifically in classrooms and schools. The authors first discuss major changes in educational goals over time that required educators to consider new approaches to instruction. They then describe four perspectives important to the design of learning environments – the degree to which these environments are learner centered, knowledge centered, assessment centered, and community centered. The authors conclude that these perspectives should be considered a “system of interconnected components” that mutually support each other to accelerate learning.


Allington, R. (2002). What I've Learned about Effective Reading Instruction from a Decade of Studying Exemplary Classroom Teachers. Phi Delta Kappan, 83(10), 740-747. Available at this link.


In this article, Allington argues that good teaching “matters much more than particular curriculum materials, pedagogical approaches, or proven programs.” Based on a decade’s-worth of research and observations, the author identifies six common elements of exemplary elementary classrooms: 1) students read and wrote for as much as half of the school day; 2) classrooms had a rich supply of high-accuracy, fluent, and easily comprehended reading; 3) teachers modeled useful and effective reading strategies as separate lessons to whole class, small groups, and individual students; 4) teachers encouraged and supported “classroom talk” in which teachers and students discussed ideas, concepts, and responses; 5) teachers utilized longer assessments, eschewing the low-level worksheet-type tasks; and 6) teachers, by basing student achievement on effort and improvement, gave all students the chance to show growth and earn good grades.


**This document is considered a priority reading.