Sunday, April 30, 2017

Approaches to Using Flash Cards for Skill Development

Instructional interventions need to address targeted skills and:
  • Be explicitly taught,
  • Address appropriate level of instruction and challenge,
  • Offer high opportunities to respond successfully,
  • Provide immediate feedback.
Flash cards are a common strategy for helping students.  However, too often flash card strategies are used incorrectly or haphazardly.  Ideally, professional development in these approaches can become part of every district's home-school professional development protocol.  There are actually three research-based approaches for using flash cards:
  • Traditional Training;
  • Interspersal Training (Drill Sandwich);
  • Incremental Rehearsal.

 Traditional Training: 100% unknown facts/words


    • Set of cards shown to student one at a time with instructor giving correct answer and student repeating fact/word and answer
    • Set of cards shown again with student responding
      Correct response: acknowledge with positive feedback
      Incorrect response: overcorrection and immediate feedback

    • Set repetition based on time and student achievement (8 trials typical

Interspersal Training: Typically 30% unknown to 70% known facts/words
    • Unknown facts/words read and answered by instructor with student repetition
    • Intersperse the unknowns with the knowns in an order such as
      K1-U1-U2-U3-K2-U1-U2-U3-K3 -U1-U2-U3-K4-U1-U2-U3-K5 -U1-U2-U3-K6-U1-U2-U3-K7-U1-U2-U3-
    • Set repetition based on time and student achievement (8 trials typical)
      Correct response: acknowledge with positive feedback
      Incorrect response: overcorrection and immediate feedback
Incremental Rehearsal: 10% unknown to 90% known
    • Unknown fact/word read and answered by instructor with student repetition
    • Rehearse the unknown with the known in specific order
  • 1st Unknown – 1st Known
  • 1st Unknown – 1st K – 2nd K
  • 1st Unknown – 1st K – 2nd K – 3rd K
  • 1st Unknown – 1st K – 2nd K – 3rd K – 4th K
  • 1st Unknown – 1st K – 2nd K – 3rd K – 4th K – 5th K
  • 1st Unknown – 1st K – 2nd K – 3rd K - 4th K – 5th K -6th K
  • 1st Unknown – 1st K – 2nd K – 3rd K - 4th K – 5th K -6th K– 7th K
  • 1st Unknown – 1st K – 2nd K – 3rd K - 4th K – 5th K -6th K – 7th K – 8th K
  • 1st Unknown – 1st K– 2nd K– 3rd K- 4th K– 5th K-6th K– 7th K– 8th K– 9th K
  • Move 1st Unknown to 1st Known position – Remove 9th Known – add 2nd Unknown
Repeat set with each targeted fact/word moving 1st unknown to the 1st known position and removing the 9th known
Correct response: acknowledge with positive feedback
Incorrect response: provide immediate correction

Basic, foundational skills must be acquired before attainment of more complex concepts and higher order thinking skills.  Students who do not have automaticity with basic skills struggle to stay “on grade level” and maintain interest.  Failure to attain these basic skills negatively effects overall academic competency.  For Math, basic skills include operation and numeration facts.  For reading, basic skills include phonemic awareness and sight words.  One approach for increasing basic skills is the effective use of flash cards as an intervention to increase student’s automaticity.  For example, when done well, flash card interventions can be effective with:

  • Improving sight word fluency
  • Mastering basic math facts
  • English language learners

To cite:

Anderson, C.J. (April 30, 2017) Approaches to Using Flash Cards for Skill Development.  [Web log post]

               Retrieved from



Burns, M. (2005).  Using incremental rehearsal to increase fluency of single-digit multiplication

                facts with children identified as learning disabled in mathematics computation. 

                Education and Treatment of Children, 28, 237-249.

Burns, M. (2009).  Interspersal technique and behavioral momentum for reading word lists. 

                School Psychology Review, 38, 428-434. 

MacQuarrie, L., Tucker, J., Burns, M. & Hartman, B. (2002).  Comparison of retention rates

                using traditional, drill sandwich, and incremental rehearsal flash card methods. 

                School Psychology Review, 31, 584-595.

Nist, L. & Joseph, L. (2008).  Effectiveness and efficiency of flashcard drill instructional methods

                on urban first-graders’ word recognition, acquisition, maintenance, and generalization. 

                School Psychology Review, 37, 294-308.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Knowledge of Questioning Strategies Promotes a Classroom That Embraces Higher Order Thinking

An engaged classroom promotes vibrant discussions and active interactions.  This setting promotes higher order thinking skills (HOTS).  The foundation for this environment is the teacher’s ability to plan and implement effective questions that lead not only to answers but to more questions. Questions can be classified by:
                                                        I.            Convergent and divergent,
                                                     II.            Effects of questions upon people,
                                                  III.            Bloom’s taxonomy,
                                                  IV.            Types of questions (Lehnert (1978), and
                                                    V.            According to the purpose of the question.
I.                 I. Convergent and divergent questions:
In theory the perfect convergent (closed-ended) question would have only one answer and the perfect divergent (open-ended) questions would have infinite answers.  However, most question will fall on a continuum between having more than one answer and a finite limit.  In most situations the better question is probably the one that will provide the most answers. For example: if I start a lesson on trees by making an overhead statement to involve the students in a visualization activity I could make the following statements: Close your eyes and imagine a silver maple tree or close your eyes and imagine a tree.  The first statement would probably have few students with mental images of a silver maple tree, but the second would probably have all students with mental images of a tree.  If I were to have them describe their tree, the information would suggest the range of understanding of trees the students have.  Open-ended or divergent questions can be used to encourage greater involvement and provide a more accurate assessment than closed-ended or convergent questions.
Convergent questions (closed) have direct answers (What is 2 + 2?). They are generally used to focus on something. For example:
  • What is your name?
  • What is in that container? 
  • What are you doing? 
  • What is three groups of four? 
  • What kind of animal has six legs?
  • What is the last book you read?

Divergent questions (open-ended) have indirect answers (How can we use this battery?).  They are generally used to try and encourage a number of answers and lead to critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving. For example:
  • What does the name Miranda make you think about? 
  • What could you put in the container? 
  • What else could you be doing? 
  • What different representations can be made for three groups of four? 
  • If we go outside and find an animal with six legs, what will it look like? 
  • How were the last two books you read different?

II.               II.  Effects a question has on the person answering the question.
Cognitive opportunity to gain information or understanding
Affective or emotional cost or benefits related to the question and attempts to answer it.
Focusing attention or expanding attention or distracting the students' attention.
Stimulating more questions or answers: A convergent question is less stimulating than a divergent question because divergent questions have many answers.
Difficulty related to the complexity of the question’s syntax, sophistication of information needed to answer the question, the difficulty of the process needed to answer it, students’ interest, and ability.
Motivation related to the need of the question to be answered by the individual. Is it their question?  Are they curious?  What is the duration of curiosity?  Curiosity increases when the individual believes they can find a solution, should know a solution, need to know a solution, and want to know a solution.
Ability of the student to process the question:  Variables which affect this are the student’s ability, interest, developmental level, background, resources available, time, and community mores.  If a question can’t be answered should it be asked?

III.              I I I. Bloom’s taxonomy:
Can be used to classify the type of question as to the level of cognition that is required to arrive at an answer (see handout) and the affective response the person may have as a result of it.  Bloom’s taxonomy can be used to guide an inductive and deductive investigation.  If students start with questions from the knowledge level, answer those questions, then ask questions from the comprehension level, answer those, and continue up the hierarchy to evaluation that would be an inductive inquiry.  Conversely if they start with an evaluation question, answer it, then ask a synthesis question, answer it, and proceed down the hierarchy it would be a deductive inquiry.  This does not mean that the hierarchy needs to be moved along in a linear fashion.  It could be used to evaluate a series of questions to see if other questions could be formulated to provide a more detailed analysis of a topic.

Knowledge questions.
  • Where are the major fishing grounds?
  • What is the quantity of fish caught?
  • Where are the major whales?
  • What do the major whales eat?

Comprehension questions.
  • What are some reasons why fish are plentiful in these regions?
  • What relationship is there to fish and whales?

Application questions.
  • If you went fishing where would you fish?
  • If you were a whale where would you fish?

Analysis questions.
  • What are the characteristics of a good fishing place?
  • What are the environmental factors for whale survival?
  • What trends are there in fish populations?
  • What trends are there in whale populations?

Synthesis questions.
  • What needs to be done to maintain the fish population?
  • What needs to be done to maintain the whale population?

Evaluation questions. Simple evaluation questions which can be answered with a yes or no need to have follow-up questions which ask the student to give reasons for their decision or consequences of the decision.  As students begin to write reasons and list consequences new questions at different levels will arise and need to be answered.  For example many students would think that all whaling should be stopped.  However, they may ask the question, "Who is whaling?" (comprehension).  The answer of Japan, Eskimo cultures, and Norwegian cities will lead to higher level questions and probably to an evaluation of should any or all of these continue?
  • Should something be done to maintain the fish population?
  • Should something be done to maintain the whale population?

IV. Types of questions have been classified by Lehnert (1978) according to the first word of the question.
A. Questions beginning with what, when, where, why, who, and which.  Most of the time these questions are divergent (open-ended).
     1. “What questions” ask for a determination of cause, judgment, and properties.  What caused something to happen (antecedent)?  What did something cause to happen (consequence)?  What enabled something to happen?  What opinion does a person have for an action (judge)?  What are the properties of an object or concept?
     2. “Why questions” ask for goals, expectations, and requests.  Why did you do that?  Why don’t you do this?
     3. “Where questions” ask for location or process.  Where is it?  Where would you begin to solve it?
     4. “Which questions” ask for identification of a person, place, event, or object.
     5. “When questions” ask for time of an event or process.  When was he born?  When do you capitalize nouns?
     6. “Who questions” ask to identify a person or group of people.  Who was the first person on the moon?  Who should be elected for class president.
B. Questions beginning with how and have.
     1. “How questions” ask for a procedure and quantity.  How would you solve this problem?  How much do you have?
     2. “Have questions” ask for yes and no responses.
C. “I questions” begin with 'is'.  They ask for verification, permission, and clarification.  Is this the answer?  Is it all right for me to go?  Is this the way to solve the problem?

V. According to the purpose of the question.
Categories such as:

  •        Factual questions: Used to get information.  Usually started with what, where, when, why, who, and how.
  •         Explanatory questions: Used to get reasons, explanations, broaden discussion, get additional information.  Such as: What other aspects are related to this issue?  Should you consider...?
  •         Justifying / Probing questions: Used to challenge old ideas, develop new ideas, and to get reasoning, and proof.  Such as: Why do you think so?  How do you know?
  •         Leading questions: to introduce new ideas, and advance ideas. Such as: Should we consider this?
  •      Hypothetical questions: Used to infer what if, and if this, then what?
  •      Decisional questions: Used to make decisions between alternatives, to get agreement, and to move the discussion along or close it.
An effective classroom that exhibits cooperative learning, high expectations, and utilization of higher order thinking skills (HOTS) does not occur by happenstance.  Effective classrooms plan for success.  A foundation of planning for academic success is having awareness of question approaches and willingness to implement diverse questioning strategies. Ideally, this article increased awareness, elevated knowledge, and promoted willingness to plan for increased academic success!   

To cite:
Anderson, C.J. (March 31, 2017) Knowledge of questioning strategies promotes a classroom that embraces 
                higher order thinking[Web log post]  Retrieved from

Sweetland R, (n.d.) Ways to classify questions. Retrieved from
       Revised by Anderson (2012) 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Invitational Theory and Practice: In the pursuit of fairness in educational equity

The theoretical foundations for Invitational Education (Purkey, 1992) include “the democratic ethos” (Dewey, 1916), the perceptual tradition (Combs, Richards, & Richards, 1988), and self-concept theory (Rogers, 1969).  These foundations rest upon core principles.  As an effective educational theory, Invitational Education (IE) utilizes assumptions requiring people, places, policies, programs, processes to interdependently transcend from the present organizational culture to the desired ideal.  Thus, IE theory rests upon:
  • The 5 basic assumptions: optimism, trust, respect, care, intentionality;
  • The 5 P’s: people, places, policies, programs, processes;
  • The ladder: intentionally disinviting, unintentionally disinviting, unintentionally inviting, intentionally inviting, and;
  •  The 4 corner press: being personally inviting with oneself, being personally inviting with others, being professionally inviting with oneself, being professionally inviting with others (Welch & Smith, 2014).

Undeniably, a humanist approach to education guides Invitational Education (IE).  Richards and Combs (1993) advocated for the implementation of positive aspects of humanist approaches in education.  These aspects embraced the human being’s uniqueness, the importance of self-concept, development of methodologies that encouraged group work, increased the involvement of students in decision-making, and sought to create more pleasant and inviting schools (pp. 266–67). 
However, the dawn of the new millennium brought new critics to the humanistic approach in education. Educational psychologists: Duchesne and McMaugh (2016), blame humanist approaches to education for promoting a structure that led to weaker academic outcomes, unprepared teachers implementing ineffective approaches, and ineffective measures of success.  Such criticism was not new to IE.  As recalled by Welch & Smith (2014), in 1986, McLaren complained that Purkey and Novak (1984) failed “to situate their pedagogical concerns within a broader problematic, one that understands how classrooms can be truly humanized only when there exists greater social justice and economic equality in the larger society” (p. 91).
While Purkey and Novak (1996) believed education to be “fundamentally an imagination of hope” (p. 1), as an effective humanistic approach to education, IE must consider “engagement with the broader social and political context” (Welch & Smith, 2014, p. 9).  In this endeavor, IE continues to evolve beyond simple re-branding.  Now widely cited in research as Invitational Theory and Practice (Shaw, Siegel, & Schoenlein, 2013), IE’s humanistic approach still embraces its theoretical foundation while seeking to extend moral responsibility and political commitment to ensure the democratic ethos, the perceptual tradition, and self-concept theory is utilized to provide fairness in equity to promote the learning for all mission.
As cited by Butler (2005), Duetsch (1975) provided three distinctive definitions of fairness based on equality, equity, and need. 
  •  Equality, by definition, is treating everyone the same.  For example, after a certain age, everyone gets to vote. 
  •   Equity suggests consequences: both rewards and punishment, are proportionate to product. For  example, all children are taught to write but the gifted poet is celebrated. 
  •   Need was defined by Duetsch based on provision or availability of accommodations and supports.  For example, “accommodations and supports will not be provided to everyone (equality) or to only the best (equity), but to those that need them to be successful” (Butler, 2005, para 2).

         Of course, practitioners of Invitational Theory and Practice (ITP) will continue to embrace the theoretical foundation of IE (Purkey & Novak, 2008).  However, ITP practitioners must also fully understand the issues of fairness in equity.  Thereafter, ITP practitioners could more effectively consider the social and political context  in which ITP should be integrated with principles of cognitive, social, and behavioral learning theories.  

 To Cite:
Anderson, C.J. (February 28, 2017) Invitational theory and practice: In pursuit of fairness in
educational equity.  [Web log post] Retrieved from

Butler, C. J. (2005) Equal and fair are not the same: Classroom issues of fairness. Retrieved
Combs, A., Richards, A., & Richards, F. (1988). Perceptual psychology: A humanistic approach
to the study of persons. New York: Harper & Row.
Deutsch, M. (1975). Equity, equality, and need: What determines which value will be used
as the basis of distributive justice? Journal of Social Issues, 31, 137-149
Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education.
New York, NY: Macmillan.
Duchesne, S., McMaugh, A. (2016). Educational psychology for learning and teaching (5th ed.).
Melbourne: Cengage Learning.
McLaren, P. (1986). Interrogating the conceptual roots of invitational education: A review of Purkey
and Novak's inviting school success. Interchange, 17, 90-95.
Purkey, W. (1992). An invitation to invitational theory. Journal of Invitational Theory and
Practice, 1(1), 5-15.
Purkey, W., & Novak, J. (1984). Inviting school success: A self-concept approach to teaching,
learning, and democratic practice. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Richards, A., & Combs, A. (1993). Education and the humanist challenge. In F. J. Wertz (Ed.),
The humanist movement: Recovering the person in psychology (pp. 256–73). Lake Worth,
FL: Gardner Press.
Rogers, C. (1969). Freedom to learn. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill.
Shaw, D., Siegel, B., & Schoenlein, A. (2013). The basic tenets of invitational theory and
practice: An invitational glossary. Journal of Invitational Theory and Practice, 19, 30-42
Welch, G. & Smith, K. (2014) From theory to praxis: Applying invitational education beyond
schools. Journal of Invitational Theory and Practice, 20, 5-10