Make It Stick

Recently I read Make it Stick by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel.  My sketchnotes from each chapter are below.

Chapter 1: Learning is Misunderstood

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Chapter 2: To Learn, Retrieve

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Chapter 3: Mix Up Your Practice

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Chapter 4: Embrace Difficulties

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Chapter 5: Avoid Illusions of Knowing

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Chapter 6: Get Beyond Learning Styles

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Chapter 7: Increase Your Abilities

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Chapter 8: Make It Stick

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Review: Switch by Chip & Dan Heath

Switch provided clarity to the need to dig deeper when faced with a change problem.  The bright-spot philosophy  (“What’s working and how can we do more of it?”) sums up my daily perspective.  Rather than dwell in the doldrums of ineffectiveness and doubt, I challenge myself to use counterintuitive thinking and maximize success.

Switch clearly articulates three surprises about change:

  • What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem – though we must realize the environment does not stand apart from hearts and minds (p. 5)

We must shape the path.

  • What looks like laziness is often exhaustion – we must realize that self-control is an exhaustible resource (p. 10)

We must motivate the elephant.

  • What looks like resistance is often lack of clarity – we must be specific and concrete – more like 1% milk and less like the Food Pyramid (p.63)

We must direct the rider.

I appreciate the action verbs in the chapter titles – such as Shrink the Change or Tweak the Environment.  This challenges me to take action to make a change.  As an instructional leader, I wonder how I can use what I know about change to help others… remove friction from the trail to make the journey more accessible, make the right behaviors a little easier and the wrong ones a bit more difficult.

My notes from my reading are below.


Review: Drive by Daniel Pink

Drive provided clarity to what makes me tick.  What is it about me that can’t get enough of the work that I do?  It is the intrinsic motivation that I experience when I am in flow, challenged with a Goldilocks Task and benefiting from the Sawyer Effect.

Drive clearly lays out the three types of motivation:

  • biological
  • rewards & punishments – this may cause a caffeine-like effect (an initial jolt that wears off quickly) and works best for algorithmic tasks.
  • intrinsic motivation – this is what drives open source work and works best for heuristic tasks.  These people find themselves on Vocation Vacations – when people use their vacation time to work on something engaging (p. 29).

Type I behavior (intrinsically motivated, devoted to becoming better and better at something that matters) depends on:

  • autonomy – this is the powerful 20% time that produced the Post-It note
  • mastery – this is when you find yourself in flow – that perfect spot between what you have to do and what you can do
    • assign these people Goldilocks Tasks – challenges that are not too hot and not too cold, neither overly difficult not overly simple (p. 116).
    • reap the positive rewards of the Sawyer Effect – practices that can turn work into play (p. 117)
  • purpose – think about Toms shoes charity <–> business

This is me.  Type I.  This is the niche I work toward and recognize when I am there.

As an instructional leader, I wonder how I can use what I know about motivation to help others… provide autonomy, become keenly aware of mastery and the gap between an individual’s knowledge/experience and that which is required by the given task, and think bigger picture – toward purpose.

My notes from my reading are below.



Low Floor, High Ceiling Tasks

We are charged with providing opportunities for our students to become self-regulated learners.    We guide them to take control of their own learning by instilling certain habits of mind, including:

  • persisting
  • thinking flexibly
  • striving for greater accuracy and precision
  • questioning and problem solving
  • applying past knowledge to new situations
  • thinking and communicating with clarity and precision
  • accessing prior knowledge, transferring that knowledge

This description above (from the CISD Learning Framework) provides a challenge we choose to accept in our mathematics classrooms.

How do we do this in the mathematics classroom?  What learning experiences do we design so that our students have opportunities to establish these habits of mind?

The best resource I can recommend for any work in building educator content knowledge of mathematics is Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally by Van de Walle, Karp, and Bay-Williams.

Mathematics Teaching Developmentally

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