A Deconstructed View of Key Educational Themes


Being part of the reform movement in education is no longer about schools “embracing change”, but creating it. The work of teaching and learning needs an ecosystem—supportive of evidence-based practice and curated through professional judgement. At Revolution School of Thought, we are working to build a culture of evidence into our work and are inspired by many innovators—educators, researchers, thought leaders, innovators and friends.

For this month, we focus on looking at the art and science of teaching and learning—and the sources that support innovation in education. We frame the question around “what works?,” and, “what matters?”


Dr. Jane R. Shore
Head of Research & Innovation,
Revolution School

The Question
What Works? What Matters?

Many educators are guided by the essential question, “what works?” A What Works approach to teaching and learning involves the use of evidence to: (1) establish where students are in their learning; (2) decide on appropriate teaching strategies and interventions; and (3) monitor student progress and evaluate teaching effectiveness. Answers to questions about what works require a focus on things we can measure.

this is not incongruent with asking the question, "what matters?"


A What Matters approach focuses less on outcomes and more on the journey. A lot of learning happens in the process and this approach involves artistry and professional wisdom. Answers to questions about what matters may be less amenable to measurement in traditional ways but are equally important. It is one thing to learn to read and quite another to love reading.

Looking to what works along with what matters allows practitioners to grow from a foundational set of understandings—the science, and then consider ways to innovate, pivot, reimagine—the art.

What Do You Think?
Making connections...

What works and what matters are two parts of the same question—something we suggest asking together. We propose framing the above on a continuum using the following word, borrowed from German:

Wissenschaft is the German language term, which loosely translated means wise craft. It incorporates scientific and non-scientific inquiry, learning, knowledge, scholarship and implies that knowledge is a dynamic process discoverable for oneself, rather than something that is handed down.

The rest of this month’s School of Thought is dedicated to sharing sources that inform our wise craft in hopes they may inform yours. Our sources of information provide diverse perspectives on issues related to teaching and learning, research and practice, innovation and application. Founded in wise craft that brings what works together with what matters, these include videos, podcasts, work of aligned organizations, books, and research. Enjoy!

That inspire us...

Revolution has several core values that we have infused into both our program and our culture.  First, we share some of our core values as illustrated in videos that inspire.


At People Serving People, a homeless shelter in Minneapolis, local design firms and educators work together to show kids how design thinking can help them make a difference in their neighborhoods.


Neuroscientist Matthias Gruber explains how stimulating curiosity makes your brain work better and improves memory. Other information-rich videos from experts on curiosity out of the Character Lab can be found here.

That help us learn and grow...

Podcasts are a great way to work new ideas into practice.  At Revolution, we believe that we all should always be learning, growing, and searching for sources to grow new ideas. Here are two of our favorite podcasts and recommendations for starting episodes.


Cult of Pedagogy Podcast.
Cult of Pedagogy is run by a team of people committed to making classrooms more awesome. Start Here: Jennifer Gonzalez (@cultofpedagogy) engages in questions of learning with the argument  to learn, students need to do something. The advice? Get students involved in asking: What is the problem? Why is it a problem? Where did it come from? How can we fix it?


Harvard EdCast. The Harvard EdCast is Harvard University's weekly series of 20 minute conversations with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. It aims to shine a light on innovative and compelling people, policies, practice, and ideas. Start Here: Todd Rose (@toddrose) discusses how personalized learning can lead to success, based on the premise that there is not one tried and true path to success. His focus is on those who follow less traditional paths on their way to personal success. “Maybe there’s something we can learn from them.”

That we love...

Revolution seeks to form mutually beneficial and meaningful partnerships in our community and beyond. Here are two organizations that inspire us and why we love them.


Why we love them:  Revolution School believes in fair and equitable solutions for measuring and capturing the process and impact of learning. The Playful Journey Lab, housed within MIT Open Learning, was spun out from the Education Arcade and Teaching Systems Lab. Created and run by trailblazing researchers and designers with a passion for playful assessment and learning, they are embarking on a journey developing emerging technologies as well as non-digital tools to better understand, design, and use innovative approaches that will prepare individuals to participate in 21st century economies. Follow on Twitter: @playfulMIT


Why we love them: Revolution School values partnerships for aligned innovative design and influence. SchoolRetool is partnership among IDEO, the at Stanford and the Hewlett Foundation, SchoolRetool approaches innovation in education with a human centered lens. Their Education studio focuses on innovations ranging from learning tools, to school models, to spreading creative confidence. Involving faculty from engineering, medicine, business, law, the humanities, sciences, and education they focus on creating spectacularly transformative learning experiences. Their goal is to support edu-innovators to catalyze impactful models for teaching and learning. Follow Twitter: @schoolretool

That provide lasting wisdom...

At the root of our work, there are books we return to again and again. Here are two.

Why we recommend it: This readable book provides access to a body of highly effective, evidence-based strategies to replace less effective but widely accepted practices. Spoiler alert: the most effective learning strategies are not intuitive.

Why we recommend it: The notion of average has guided the structure of so many of our formal learning experiences, and this book asks why. Todd Rose’s goal is to, “ liberate readers, once and for all, from the tyranny of the average.”

That connects us...

Education First (2018) created a wonderful resource for evidence based initiative building in school. They offer a graphic created through a scan of reasearch and researchers. We have modified their graphic (below) with some revisions and additions. We hope to continue to add to this as a source for innovation research.

Upcoming Events

Learn more about Revolution School at our upcoming Program Preview.
Sunday, May 19, 2019 from 1:00-3:30 pm at 230 South Broad Street, Floor 17 
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Previous Events 

Innovative Schools Cooperative Annual Conference

Revolution School is a founding member of The Innovative Schools Cooperative, a national network of innovative independent schools, including renowned schools in Boston, Chicago, New York, City, Philadelphia, and San Fransisco. The Cooperative connects passionate, hard-working, and visionary educators to strengthen, support, and promote truly innovative education practice. Our team was was proud to participate in the inaugural ISC conference in New York City on March 17-18.


Revolutions School of Thought is a platform for uplifting and connecting different perspectives so that together we can uplevel education.

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