Asilomar #6: Infrastructure Investments

Session Title

Students Take Charge Of Their Learning And Raise Test Scores

Better Title

Ensure That Homework Is Placed Just-So On The Front-Right Corner Of Every Student’s Desk Exactly Four Minutes Into The Period Every Day


Kate Reed, Professor, CSU East Bay


My companion was unhappy with this one. I was apathetic and caught up on my RSS reader, but I recognized, anyway, that two very different schools of thought competed for space in that small room that day.

Essentially, if your journey has a teacher has led you, as it has led me, to the idea that content and management are functionally the same (ie. engaging activities prevent most discipline problems) you are called to develop engaging activities.

If, on the other hand, you separate management and content, you may be led, as Kate Reed has been led, to develop them separately. Over an hour and a half, Reed never discussed content. She described, instead, her classroom’s opening procedures, every detail from how students would pass up papers, to how they would resolve homework questions, to the multiple-choice bubbles she copied onto student warm-ups, to how she grades those warm-ups.

I have no doubt this is an effective strategy for certain populations, especially those that experience meaningful routine only at school, but I would have to alter the course of my career at least 170° to even consider her approach.


Overhead transparencies.


A copy of her opener sheet, multiple-choice bubbles and all, for the teachers who couldn’t make one on their own.


  • None. Let’s move on. Consider the benefits and liabilities of both approaches, why don’t you?
I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. Soooo Dan,

    At this juncture, I’m wondering if there’s ever been a conference session that you’ve really – I mean, really – enjoyed.

    In other words, if you were to name your top three presenters, who would they be?

  2. I enjoyed 100% of the eight sessions I attended at CMC, even this one. (By the same yardstick, I enjoyed 22% of the sessions I attended at ILC.) I didn’t agree with her fundamental assumptions about this job but she presented them competently, she enfolded the audience into the discussion, and kept the pace brisk.

    Tom Sallee’s session was out-of-control good. Fred Jones and Michael Grinder are stellar, but, I mean, these are the Mickey Mantles of the presenting circuit. If anybody can get in front of a group of people and hit a double, I’ll walk away smiling.