Book Review                                                    Page 40



Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning

by Mike Schmoker, ASCD, Alexandria, Va., 2011, 238 pp. with index, $27.95 softcover


Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning initially comes across as repetitive. But that quality proves to be a useful one as the book describes how educators “prepare students for college, careers and citizenship.”

Author Mike Schmoker continuously stresses that to increase student achievement, it is essential to know your priorities and to constantly reinforce “three essentials for success — what we teach, how we teach and purposeful reading and writing in every discipline.”

Schmoker, a consultant who spent time as a school administrator and English teacher, reminds us of the importance of educators working as a team, the proper use and importance of textbook reading (which many schools have put on the backburner), the value of monitoring and, most importantly, “simplicity, clarity and priority.”

Focus would benefit teachers and administrators of all grade levels. With its summaries of major lesson models, such as those developed by Madeline Hunter, Robert Marzano, Marilyn Burns and James Popham, the book also could serve in a teacher prep course.

Teachers will find the introduction, first three chapters and the chapter dealing with their specific core subject area most valuable. Additional resources include a corresponding study guide from publisher ASCD and references to strategies on Schmoker’s website.

Reviewed by Lylia King, Texas Regional Manager, Walch Education, Cleburne, Texas


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