Mavericks, Teaching, and Google Scholar

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This picture was taken at Mavericks, a famous big wave surfing spot in California. Intrepid surfers are enticed by the huge waves, regular break, and recognition that comes from successfully navigating the treacherous surf. Having never surfed, I’m assuming that the fear of being crushed by the wave is also a motivating factor in getting out of the tube successfully.

As a teacher, I often feel that the swell of responsibilities often threatens to overwhelm my ability to operate effectively in my core role: classroom instructor. Among the long list of Things To Do, meetings, email responses, lesson planning, accommodations, and problem-solving, we sometimes overlook the importance of focusing on our craft.

To that end, I have been attempting to develop research habits that allow me to find short, easy-to-read, educational pieces that can directly inform my classroom work. To do so, I have started using Google Scholar, one of many research oriented applications provided from Google. I definitely don’t know all the bells and whistles that come with the program, but simple searches can often provide excellent resources in a wide-range of easily consumable formats. For teachers lacking the energy to read books and journals during the school year, the option to refresh and re-invigorate can come from shorter research articles.

More importantly, the information found through research can be directly implemented in the classroom setting. For example, a recent search turned up a document titled, What Works In Classroom Education², a text outlining 9 essential strategies for classroom instruction. Following the links provided by Google Scholar, educators can access a PDF of the document for quick reading and consumption. Furthermore, once a researcher gets hold of an idea or text, one can often find related articles on the topic, also using Google Scholar.

One of the recommended strategies from Marzano, et al., was the use of note-taking. Seems simple right? No so fast. The authors also suggest that teachers should encourage and give time for review and revision of notes; notes can be the best study guides for tests.³ In my case, this seemed like simple advice. Prior to a summary writing exercise, I asked students to review their notes by reading through them silently and then having a short table-talk to review the information.

Was it effective? I’m not sure. I’ll have more information when I review the writing. That said, this little tip, garnered from some quick research, helped me to re-focus my efforts and avoid wiping out on this day.

  1. Quirarte, Frank. Mavericks Californing USA. Digital image.Surfspotsmap.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2014. <http://surfspotsmap.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Mavericks-California-USA-surf-8.jpg&gt;.
  2. Marzano, Robert J., Barbara B. Gaddy, and Ceri Dean. “What Works in Classroom Instruction.” (2000).
  3. Marzano, Robert J., Debra Pickering, and Jane E. Pollock. Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Ascd, 2001.
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