Wednesday, February 8, 2023

LTL Ep. 19: Background Knowledge Builds Better Readers—the Case for Social Studies (ft. Robert Pondiscio)

Robert Pondiscio is one of the few signals in the noisy education debate who actually asks the important question, “What are the kids doing all day in school?”

He has long believed that background knowledge is critical to learning, especially when it comes to becoming a strong reader—and now we have a study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute that provides hard evidence for what he has long been saying.

In conversation with Erika, Pondiscio explains the study’s findings in a way that is simple and easily accessible for non-wonks. He uses smart analogies and experiences from his own experience as a teacher to make the point that students need wide ranging knowledge to be able compete in the world. He also shares shares additional resources for people to check out if they want to dig in and better understand the importance of background knowledge. Links to those articles are in the comments of the video.

Erika Sanzi
Erika Sanzi is a former educator and elected school committee member. She is also a senior visiting fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Her blog is Good School Hunting and her Substack is Sanzi Says. She occasionally writes for other outlets including Scary Mommy, The 74, and The Hill. She is the mother of three school aged sons and calls Rhode Island home.


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