“During workshops, I sometimes recount incidences of students who highlight whole paragraphs and even whole pages! Invariably, teachers chuckle.” So opens Chapter 3, “Instill Skills.” What does this say to you?

We can remember as pupils how we fended for ourselves learning how to do school. We often had to figure out how to do homework, study for tests, take notes, write papers, complete projects, and organize. Those among us who did these things well often turned out to be the good students, which may have helped our teachers sort us out into groups.

When we think about it, parents and pupils share a surprising similarity: They learn how to do what they have to do on their own. We expect preparation for parenting to be uneven, as we have no parent-instruction institutions. But schools are institutions with a defined structure, run by teachers and support staff who guide students for thirteen years or longer. Yet, results belie our effectiveness.

Some among us, however, take time to teach students how to do school. I was fortunate to co-teach in my first years with a master teacher, Del Goodwin, who spent an extraordinary amount of time teaching students how to approach schoolwork, including how to take effective lecture notes, write essays, and prepare research papers (his “A Manual for the Writing of Research Papers,” was exemplary). In those pre-rubric, pre-formative-assessment days, we spent an inordinate amount of time defining procedures and providing feedback to students.

Discover other such ideas for teaching literacy in Chapter 3, “Instill Skills” in Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting Students to Learn that you can purchase from Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Middle-Room-Frank-Thoms/dp/0615358918