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The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction

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The Fundamental Five: The Formula for Quality Instruction, shares with teachers and school leaders the five practices that every teacher can, and should, use to dramatically improve instuctional rigor and relevance, and student performance.


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The Fundamental Five: The Formula for Quality Instruction, shares with teachers and school leaders the five practices that every teacher can, and should, use to dramatically improve instuctional rigor and relevance, and student performance.

30 review for The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Donalyn

    This is the book study choice in a district where I’m coaching. I thought the strategies were nothing new, but the reminders are good. Poorly written/edited and I thought the authors were dismissive of teachers at times.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Liz B

    1. I do not do well with books I am required to read. I am 79% more likely to irrationally dislike them. And yes, this is why I so rarely assign specific books to my students. 2. The actual five things they are talking about ARE good instructional practices. (IF TOTALLY OBVIOUS ONES OMGOMGOMGOMG.) 2.a. I did some coaching this past year and it was eye-opening for me...I have better insight than I used to into what is sometimes happening in other classrooms. So I am willing to concede that what is 1. I do not do well with books I am required to read. I am 79% more likely to irrationally dislike them. And yes, this is why I so rarely assign specific books to my students. 2. The actual five things they are talking about ARE good instructional practices. (IF TOTALLY OBVIOUS ONES OMGOMGOMGOMG.) 2.a. I did some coaching this past year and it was eye-opening for me...I have better insight than I used to into what is sometimes happening in other classrooms. So I am willing to concede that what is obvious to me is not, in fact, obvious to all. 3. There is an appalling over-reliance on unpublished research by the authors. 4. The writing. It is so, so, so, so, so bad. I read parts out loud to my husband just to see him face-palm. Should I dip back in to find you a quote? "The teacher simply groups students in groups of two to four. Two students is, of course, the minimum size of a group, due to the fact that it requires at least two people to have a conversation..." Also, the authors refer to themselves constantly in the third person. It makes me hate them. 5. The authors are so OBVIOUSLY out of the classroom, and yet at one point they claim that because they are conducting seminars for teachers, they are "current practitioners involved in daily action research." Arrrrrgh. Just leave that out, ok? So. Two stars because the instructional practices recommended are fine and good and fine. This should have been an article, not a book...or they should've gotten some actual teachers to write it. If you want to read a good book about basic instructional practices, try Wong's The First Days of School.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ivonne Rovira

    The goal clarity coach at my new school recommended that I read this book to help me make the adjustment from teaching in a high school (which had been the case for the entirety of my 14-year career) to teaching Spanish in an elementary school. What a goddess she is! I owe her more than I can ever repay. Co-authors Sean Cain and Mike Laird, one-time teachers and principals in Texas, have turned consultant and produced this slender volume. It contains a five-step prescription — duh! It’s right in The goal clarity coach at my new school recommended that I read this book to help me make the adjustment from teaching in a high school (which had been the case for the entirety of my 14-year career) to teaching Spanish in an elementary school. What a goddess she is! I owe her more than I can ever repay. Co-authors Sean Cain and Mike Laird, one-time teachers and principals in Texas, have turned consultant and produced this slender volume. It contains a five-step prescription — duh! It’s right in the title! — for better classroom management and better student engagement (which, of course, are tied). They’ve got some spiffy nomenclature, but, in essence, the steps are posting your learning targets (and planning a reminder at the end), moving around the room, give kids chances to discuss what you’re teaching (and they’re learning), recognize even small improvements and achievements, and use exit slips. Is The Fundamental 5 as all-encompassing as Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College or as powerful as Louanne Johnson’s Two Parts Textbook, One Part Love: A Recipe for Sucessful Teaching — the latter of which should be required reading for every high-school teacher in an urban school district? No, but we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and The Fundamental 5 was certainly worth buying to get these insights in one place and in a breezy read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    William Lawrence

    It is tragic and disrespectful to teachers and students for school districts to spend taxpayer dollars on a self published book of rubish that fabricates new research, plagiarizes valid past research, and spews theories that don't hold up to social science standards. There are no real citations of real studies-- not a single peer reviewed scholarly journal. The authors actually cite themselves and what they call their own unpublished "research"! One of those unpublished research citations claims It is tragic and disrespectful to teachers and students for school districts to spend taxpayer dollars on a self published book of rubish that fabricates new research, plagiarizes valid past research, and spews theories that don't hold up to social science standards. There are no real citations of real studies-- not a single peer reviewed scholarly journal. The authors actually cite themselves and what they call their own unpublished "research"! One of those unpublished research citations claims to have reviewed 17,000 classroom observations. Yes, 17,000. Go ahead, laugh. Because I did. The authors have large gaps in basic logic. They believe their approach works because the pass rate went up from ONE year to the next: 1. it's only a year 2. there are other factors that may attribute to higher pass rates: teacher differences, student differences, parental involvement. 3. Pass rates aren't anything to get worked up over anyway since that means 65% in most cases. All of their charts and graphs are unscientific and manipulative. One table tries to represent the success of their program from one set of observations to the next. The problem is they're comparing 147 observations to 985. The more observations there are, the more you're going to see techniques they're arguing for, which says nothing of their influence on those results. Some of their techniques, which aren't their techniques, have been around for a long time and are common methods. Proximity of instruction is a great example of good practice, though hovering over students is a terrible idea. Framing the lesson, at least the way they suggest, is a simplistic ineffective approach that is built in to look good and satisfy administrators. "Purposeful talk" is anything but that, and their version of "writing critically" (four words on a sticky note) is a joke. The most damaging part of this book is its bandwagon approach to all the common bumpersticker slogans teachers now hear about what they need to do: "attention span is down, so we have to adapt" "make everything fun for the kids" "groups, groups, groups." Instead of working to improve the next generation, teachers are to told adapt to them and continue to put them at a disadvantage. A former football player praises this poorly written book on the back cover and claims this book has taken Texas schools from worst to first. Yet I've never seen Texas on any first place ranking for academics (maybe he's referring to football?). In fact, Texas is still in the bottom ten ranked states for education. No high performing private school in America would buy this self published (& rather expensive) book, so why should a public school accept it? It's a shame that school districts have fallen for snake oil salesmen like these authors, who aren't even current educators. But this might say more about the administrators who are buying into this (and some reviewing it as a wonderful book for their teachers), then forcing it on their teachers, continuing an old outdated top down system of 20th century management. They might as well be that superintendent in NJ who was caught defecating on school grounds.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Moon

    The strategies are good to use but this is all written and based on NCLB which ended in 2015. This also ties in with CSCOPE which districts are no longer using. There is a culturally and unethical reference to Indo-Americas which made me a bit uncomfortable and I don't feel should be referenced. I also don't feel that when a student refuses to complete their work, that it is the teacher's fault. Teachers work very hard in their classrooms daily. I feel that needs to be reanalyzed. The strategies are good to use but this is all written and based on NCLB which ended in 2015. This also ties in with CSCOPE which districts are no longer using. There is a culturally and unethical reference to Indo-Americas which made me a bit uncomfortable and I don't feel should be referenced. I also don't feel that when a student refuses to complete their work, that it is the teacher's fault. Teachers work very hard in their classrooms daily. I feel that needs to be reanalyzed.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

    I recommend this for all classroom teachers, new and seasoned. It is another one that I have highlighted up and will be revisiting between now and the beginning of school. Cain and Laird present 5 concepts that are not new to educators, but when used together create a formula that has been proven to increase academic achievement in schools and students.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tina Young

    Excellent pedagogy written clearly and easily executable in the classroom. This would definitely work in a culture that promotes its use district wide and would be more effective if reinforced over many grade levels as the students move through the school system. I have a hard time thinking about how this would work in tougher schools though as they are using pedagogy/instruction as a means for classroom management.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Critical for educators! Best practices condensed into a perfect, workable, well-explained formula. If you haven't read this book, but you are an educator, you need to read this! Planned questions for frequent, small group, purposeful talk is my biggest take-away, but I'm going to challenge myself to do even more of the other points as well. I wish I'd read this years ago. Critical for educators! Best practices condensed into a perfect, workable, well-explained formula. If you haven't read this book, but you are an educator, you need to read this! Planned questions for frequent, small group, purposeful talk is my biggest take-away, but I'm going to challenge myself to do even more of the other points as well. I wish I'd read this years ago.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Deckinga

    I don't actually know when I "finished" this book so I just set the date for today. I keep using it in my instruction! A co-worker asked to borrow it over the weekend and I almost died. Then I remembered - I know where she works ;) Yes. It's that good. You read it and go "duh, that's just good teaching." Then you start to look around and you go, "I'm sorda' doing that" or "Well, I was asked to do it this way, but it's just not working for me." I am telling you that going back to these basic 5 thi I don't actually know when I "finished" this book so I just set the date for today. I keep using it in my instruction! A co-worker asked to borrow it over the weekend and I almost died. Then I remembered - I know where she works ;) Yes. It's that good. You read it and go "duh, that's just good teaching." Then you start to look around and you go, "I'm sorda' doing that" or "Well, I was asked to do it this way, but it's just not working for me." I am telling you that going back to these basic 5 things has changed my teaching for the better, and my students are benefiting from it. I spend LESS time lesson planning, LESS time preparing materials, LESS time on all those little tasks a teacher does. I spend MORE time with my students. They spend MORE time using higher order thinking skills. They spend MORE time using the things we learn in class both in class and out. They are making progress QUICKER. I've noticed that my lessons use more and more of the higher verbs and less and less lower verbs. I have asked to do whole campus PD on this book because it is that fantastic. Some days we need to ditch the bells and whistles and just get down to brass tacks. No more "There's an app. for that" style of teaching. No more making it look shiny on the surface. Quality learning in a quality learning community.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Marie

    The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction by Sean Cain 3 stars This novel breaks down the education practice of the Fundamental Five and how it can and should be implemented into the classroom setting. I really liked this novel overall. It's explicit in message and clearly illustrates why it is important to implement in the classroom. I personally found it enlightening, but the text is very dry and makes for dry reading. I am looking forward to implementing the practices of framing t The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction by Sean Cain 3 stars This novel breaks down the education practice of the Fundamental Five and how it can and should be implemented into the classroom setting. I really liked this novel overall. It's explicit in message and clearly illustrates why it is important to implement in the classroom. I personally found it enlightening, but the text is very dry and makes for dry reading. I am looking forward to implementing the practices of framing the lesson, working in the power zone, frequent small group with purposeful talk, recognize and reinforce, and writing critically consistently into my future classroom.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I hate I borrowed it. I couldn't put it down, but couldn't write in it....recommended by my academic dean....was a confirmation of my teaching style, but have me a way to tie it down more...worth the read! I hate I borrowed it. I couldn't put it down, but couldn't write in it....recommended by my academic dean....was a confirmation of my teaching style, but have me a way to tie it down more...worth the read!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Taylor

    I was asked to give a presentation on a segment of this book so I was required to read it. I don’t mind reading about good instructional strategies and am happy to learn. However, reading this book was like getting a dental procedure while watching a boring movie. I guess it was written as an article abstract and then just printed and sold to unsuspecting school districts who are willing to desperately shell out money for anything that could increase their scores. Nothing in this book is new. In I was asked to give a presentation on a segment of this book so I was required to read it. I don’t mind reading about good instructional strategies and am happy to learn. However, reading this book was like getting a dental procedure while watching a boring movie. I guess it was written as an article abstract and then just printed and sold to unsuspecting school districts who are willing to desperately shell out money for anything that could increase their scores. Nothing in this book is new. In fact, if you are an effective teacher, you are already doing these things. They just gave them new names to make money off of them. Effective. I should have thought of this. If you are engaging your students, structuring your lesson, encouraging discussion and using rigorous and relevant products to show knowledge, don’t read this book. It will just make your teaching feel boring, when it’s not.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laura Giessler

    Short quick read that outlines 5 instructional practices that lead to student success. 1. Framing the lesson at beginning and end--helps students filter info so they can focus on what is most important. 2. Work in the Power Zone--teacher should be interacting with students while teaching!! 3. Frequent Small Group Purposeful Talk About Learning--every 10 minutes, turn and talk (or process somehow). 4. Recognize and Reinforce--as personal and specific as possible. 5. Write Critically--to force stu Short quick read that outlines 5 instructional practices that lead to student success. 1. Framing the lesson at beginning and end--helps students filter info so they can focus on what is most important. 2. Work in the Power Zone--teacher should be interacting with students while teaching!! 3. Frequent Small Group Purposeful Talk About Learning--every 10 minutes, turn and talk (or process somehow). 4. Recognize and Reinforce--as personal and specific as possible. 5. Write Critically--to force students to construct knowledge and bring abstract to concrete; worth the time; teachers need to be shown how and need to be accountable/observed for doing this type of writing; natural closing product for a lesson.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David

    The instructional practices provided in this book are fine, but the writing is clumsy, arrogant, insulting, and dismissive, and based entirely on unpublished research conducted by the authors themselves. I’m a bit dubious of authors who use themselves as their source. And if I could make a recommendation to any future authors out there... Don’t insult your readers. If you’re compiling a list of effective strategies to help teachers in the classroom, don’t continuously comment on how terrible all The instructional practices provided in this book are fine, but the writing is clumsy, arrogant, insulting, and dismissive, and based entirely on unpublished research conducted by the authors themselves. I’m a bit dubious of authors who use themselves as their source. And if I could make a recommendation to any future authors out there... Don’t insult your readers. If you’re compiling a list of effective strategies to help teachers in the classroom, don’t continuously comment on how terrible all teachers are! We’re reading your book because we care and want to be better teachers. The authors of this book should heed their own advice. Recognize and reinforce!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This was a school-mandated read from the end of last school year for this coming year. I checked it out the day it was mentioned and took a while over the summer reading it. I had implemented a number of things it talks about and it definitely has helped in certain circumstances if not in others. all in all it was a semi-helpful and inspiring read before coming into teaching my AP classes this year.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    This was required reading for teachers in my school. It seemed like common sense for most good teachers. A few good reminders. I struggle with “framing the lesson” and seeing the importance of putting objectives on the board. It helped explain the reasoning and studies behind it, but I still seem to resent being told to do it... hmmm.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Brooks

    Fast read, mainly because it was short. Not a ton of new knowledge gained, since I already do some of these things. Definitely could do more though, and it gave pretty clear examples of implementing the fundamental five.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael Cotignola

    This is a good handbook to have, especially for an early-career teacher. While it doesn't present anything new or groundbreaking, the way it is collected, presented, and reinforced makes it a valuable resource for teachers who want to step up their game (read: all teachers). This is a good handbook to have, especially for an early-career teacher. While it doesn't present anything new or groundbreaking, the way it is collected, presented, and reinforced makes it a valuable resource for teachers who want to step up their game (read: all teachers).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Wes Branscum

    The fundamental 5 are good techniques and I have used some outside of the educational system. Too bad the Principal who required us to read it could not apply the fundamental 5 to his job and employees to be Likeable and prevent his demotion to assistant principal.

  20. 4 out of 5

    TheNextGenLibrarian

    This book is great for beginning teachers, but a lot of what is covered is how I have been teaching for years. It fits in well with the PBL mode our district has adopted so honestly I didn’t get a whole lot out of it other than the critical writing piece.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I’m a first year teacher and this book offers a straightforward, researched approach to improving instruction, I’m surprised that more teachers aren’t wholeheartedly embracing it’s turnkey plan. All teachers should read this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Strawn

    Excellent focus on the foundational practices of education. It's always good to refresh and dive more in depth with fundamental practices. Excellent focus on the foundational practices of education. It's always good to refresh and dive more in depth with fundamental practices.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Mendez

    Great Very informative and likely to recommend to other professionals. The book has a great deal of ideas to implement in the classroom.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    My district is implementing The Fundamental 5 this year. After reading the book, I am excited to see it action. We even had the chance to hear from Sean Cain himself.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jaki

    This is a good resource. It's concise and well-written. The concepts were not new to me but it was a good reminder of certain practices, and I appreciated the examples given. This is a good resource. It's concise and well-written. The concepts were not new to me but it was a good reminder of certain practices, and I appreciated the examples given.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Ellis

    Supporting your claims with your own unpublished research is rubbish. Also, this book makes a lot of assumptions about teachers that I just don't find to be true. Supporting your claims with your own unpublished research is rubbish. Also, this book makes a lot of assumptions about teachers that I just don't find to be true.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leif Johnson

    Trendy, but with some good ideas. Some of this we've been doing for years. It's just got a new coat of paint and some fancy footwork. Trendy, but with some good ideas. Some of this we've been doing for years. It's just got a new coat of paint and some fancy footwork.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mindy Perez

    Don’t you love when educational theorists with limited classroom experiences write books where they take best practices and mix them all up and rebrand them as the cure-all to education? No? I don’t either. Hence the 2 stars. There’s nothing new here, especially considering the book was published over a decade ago. This might have some insights for new teachers or students studying to be teachers. Otherwise, skip it and read something from an actual classroom teacher.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brandy

    Having just finished my master's degree in adolescent literacy, I feel that this is a ridiculously compressed attempt to increase literacy across contents with five basic steps. Literacy instruction is so much more complex and nuanced than this book leads the reader to believe. Finally, the evidence presented is outdated. I know firsthand literacy instruction is powerful, but it is not an easy, quick transition from the more traditional methods of instruction to student-centered classrooms. I ho Having just finished my master's degree in adolescent literacy, I feel that this is a ridiculously compressed attempt to increase literacy across contents with five basic steps. Literacy instruction is so much more complex and nuanced than this book leads the reader to believe. Finally, the evidence presented is outdated. I know firsthand literacy instruction is powerful, but it is not an easy, quick transition from the more traditional methods of instruction to student-centered classrooms. I hope anyone who reads this book through a campus study is also instructed by qualified coaches.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Read this for work, and it was a quick and easy read. The strategies recommended by the authors are basically things we already do or know we should do as teachers, but in a more intentional manner. None of the strategies would require a major shift in instruction. I do believe implementing the fundamental five will have a positive impact on our students. I am curious about what this would look like with primary students (K-3) as the examples all seem more relevant for fourth grade and up. Howev Read this for work, and it was a quick and easy read. The strategies recommended by the authors are basically things we already do or know we should do as teachers, but in a more intentional manner. None of the strategies would require a major shift in instruction. I do believe implementing the fundamental five will have a positive impact on our students. I am curious about what this would look like with primary students (K-3) as the examples all seem more relevant for fourth grade and up. However, I do believe this can and should be implemented at all levels. I am looking forward to our assistant superintendent's visit to learn more about what this looks like at all grade levels.

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