What’s more important?

Students practicing discrete skills such as multiplication, identifying the main idea of a paragraph and memorizing dates in history


Students engaged in higher ordered thinking, having socratic discussions on questions that have only well-reasoned answers but less “right” and “wrong”

The research says: BOTH!

Build routines into your classroom so that students do both regularly. Sometimes the drill part only needs a few (like 3!) minutes. The higher-ordered thinking part takes more time to do well, but both are equally important.

A typical 50-minute lesson could start with 5 – 10 minutes of skill or fact drills. Mix it up with flash cards and games, not only worksheets. Have students compete with themselves, record their personal bests and set goals (e.g. I can solve 45 single-digit multiplication tables in 3 minutes — tomorrow I want to solve 50). Then move on to more complex intellectual work like a socratic seminar or a challenging math problem that the whole class discusses.


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