Reading Could Save Your Life

I was reading (yes, reading) a magazine in the doctor’s office the other day and noticed an article about the benefits of being a reader.  Apparently, The Social Science and Medicine Journal has reported a study that showed reading can literally save your life.  They studied the reading habits of 3,635 older adults (50+), adjusted for general health, socio-economic factors, and education level and found that 3.5 hours of reading a week (that’s a mere 30 minutes a day) reduces mortality by more than 17%.  They study lasted over 12 years.  There appear to be cognitive benefits from reading beyond the benefits provided by the material you read.  Obviously reading heavier, more demanding material has different cognitive benefits than reading a beach novel or magazine article.  But all reading appears to boost brain cell connectivity.  And that increased connectivity appears to reduce mortality.

Now I have a new defense for my time spent reading!! pexels-photo-196649

Continuum of Influence

I attended a workshop by Ainsley Rose at the 2016 TLC Conference in Dallas.  During the workshop, he asked participants to order a list of words to create a continuum of influence.

coerce, coach, manipulate, aspire, advise, motivate, persuade inspire

Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 1.47.56 PM

The group as a whole created the following continuum:

  1. Coerce
  2. Manipulate
  3. Persuade
  4. Advise
  5. Coach
  6. Motivate
  7. Inspire
  8. Aspire

This taxonomy goes from an external locus of control to an internal locus of control.

I had some thinking about the words that differed.  Here’s my taxonomy and my thinking behind it: 

  1. Coerce — this is when I use out and out force to get someone to do what I want them to do.  It is about brute force (whether physical, mental, or emotional).  It is strictly about MY will superceding YOUR will.  I have the power and the authority to demand that you comply with my will.
  2. Manipulate — in this instance, it is still about my will superceding your will.  But I am on a slightly more equal footing with you.  I do not FORCE your compliance, I mold your compliance, often without your explicit consent.  
  3. Persuade — the shift here is to tacit consent.  I am still in the one-up position.  My will still prevails.  But you give consent to it in some way.  You are convinced or coaxed in some way into agreeing with me.  
  4. Advise — Your consent becomes explicit here.  You have the right to ignore my advice.  You become at least somewhat a co-thinker in the process.  I am still “one-up”.  Synonyms for this include; recommend, admonish, direct, instruct.  
  5. Motivate — this word still seems to imply that I am in the superior position, but now YOU have shifted to the driver’s seat.  Not only are you free to ignore my advice, but you are free to steer.  I am no longer providing specific directions or steps to follow.  I am in a less prescriptive role, but I am still pushing your actions.  
  6. Inspire – In this situation I am still most definitely “one-up”.  I am arousing or exciting you to something.  I am doing it TO you still.  Synonyms here are: provoke, spur, galvanize, cause.  As in all of the others, the goal is for you to take action, but I am the provoker of that action completely.  You are passive in the verb itself.
  7. Aspire — Again, I perceive this to still be a one-up position.  You “aspire” to be like me? There is a slight shift here, however.  Now the verb is something that YOU do.  You are the actor in aspire.  I cannot aspire for you, you have to aspire for yourself.  Synonyms include yearn, dream, strive.  This is when I make you CRAVE doing something.  The challenge here is that it is still something where I am somehow the model or at least the one who points to the model or ideal.
  8. Coach — This is a tricky word, but I believe that it lives at the top of this hierarchy.  Typically, in general culture, a coach is a teacher or trainer.  The coach calls the plays, plans the strategy, and is the “boss” of the team.  But in the world of Instructional Coaching, we take a more Rogerian approach to coaching.  The coach is the one who hones, who provides a mirror for reflection.  When coaching takes this form, suddenly the recipient is the primary actor.  YOU decide the goal, the vision.  All that the coach provides is sharpening of a strategy to achieve it or feedback about your success along that pathway.  YOU are the actor both in the mental work and the ensuing action itself.  This is a huge, fundamental shift and one that should not be underestimated.



Check the Picture!

I have heard the phrase “check the picture” many times in my career, and always as a prompt for a beginning reader.  We often ask our kindergarten and first grade readers to “check the picture” in an attempt to solve an unknown word.  They derive content and context from the use of the picture supports.  But today, I watched my teacher friend, Shelley, prompt her students to “check the picture” in math.

The students had just practiced representing numbers in a variety of ways.  They had drawn base-ten blocks, groups, arrays, tally marks and more in attempts to demonstrate their understanding of numbers like 30, 24, and 42.  Then Shelley put a picture on the board and asked the students to create some number sentences to prove or disprove her thinking.  Immediately, the students began creating a wide variety of sentences about the number Shelley had shown them.  And all of the number sentences were correct as far as representing the number itself.  But they didn’t further the understanding that Shelley was seeking with them.  Rather than getting into a guessing game with the children, she simply prompted them: “Check the picture.  Make sure your sentence goes with the picture.”  Suddenly, a flurry of new thinking developed.  Many of the number sentences did NOT match the picture.  Students had to evaluate each of their sentences against the visual on the board.



I attended a feedback workshop at the TLC conference by Joellen Killion.  She asked us to create a definition for ourselves of feedback.   Here was mine:  information that enables the receiver to adjust his/her performance

And now — here was hers: Feedback is a dynamic, dialogic process that uses evidence to engage a learner, internally or with a learning partner, in constructing knowledge about practice and self  (Joellen Killion The Feedback Process p 13)

Some of her key questions included: Who is the expert?  Who is in charge?  Who has the power?

Key terms from her definition included: dynamic, dialogic, process, evidence, learner, learning partner, learning object, constructing knowledge


The rest of my notes from her engaging session are below.


When the knowledge is spoken by the partner/coach rather than the learner, we can be certain that no construction took place.  The learner needs to be the one creating the new knowledge.

very constructivist — feedback cannot simply be “given” and “received”

information vs knowledge — indicative of cognitive demand — knowledge demands work of the learner.

Mary Budd Rowe — wait time

Feedback Typology

  1.  desistance — comes from “desist” — or STOP — coach is in charge, learner is responsible — expectation is obedience, not reasoning why.  Creates a situation like with a two year old — we say stop and the child keeps returning again and again.
  2. Correction — adds the layer of “instead of that, do this” — Book Eat This, Not That — provides instruction or information about the preferred behavior.
  3. approval/disapproval — communicated two ways — verbal and non-verbal (way more is communicated non-verbally)  Coach is doing the work.  learner doesn’t necessarily know WHY the behavior was approved or disapproved.  No criteria evident or available for these first three types.
  4. attribution — Kegan and Lahey — How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work — Says who or what the other person is — using adjectives or attributes  — Implies a criteria but does not communicate it to the learner.  “You are so thoughtful” “You are so stubborn”  Presumes that the coach holds the power and gets to act and produce a reaction.
  5. evaluation — pivot point — in the purest sense — evaluation means giving a score.  It is the judgement of the evaluator, the criteria is not necessarily clear or communicated. Think about High School English — i wrote and essay and I got a B+.  I didn’t know why, but I was graded/evaluated.
  6. assessment — has to have an objective or some declaration of the expectation.  the end result or ideal state must be clear.  Also needs a scale.  Must be able to identify where someone is on the pathway in terms of moving toward the goal. Answers the questions — where are we going?  And Where are we?  I know the gap. Criteria become necessary and public.  Have to be understood by the coach and the learner in some way.  If the learner cannot understand and explain the criteria, then you cannot move any further on this scale.
  7. analysis — knowing the end, knowing where I am, knowing the gap AND understanding the criteria well enough that what needs to be done to close the gap can be identified (might be by the learner or the coach — constructivism requires that it be by the learner.)
  8. construction — the learner is constructing a new understanding. Often something that the learner has never seen or thought before.  How I as an actor in an environment influence the other players and the environment itself. Conclusion or hypothesis drawn is essentially “So, when I…. students will…”
  9. deconstruction — taking the brand new learning and imagine when it won’t work — Under what circumstances might it not be true.  this is when the idea of instructional decision making becomes clear — I could choose X or Y and the reason to choose Y is… and the reason to choose X is….