Content Matters: The Importance of Content Knowledge for Improving Student Learning


The Conference will stimulate action for teaching content in ways that prepare PK-12 students for higher education and beyond and promote dialogue between researchers and practitioners to address critical changes required to increase student learning and achievement.


The Institute for Learning at the University of Pittsburgh will host its 15th Annual Conference focused on improving training for district teachers on how to teach rigorous content. For the first time in 15 years, the IFL invites educators outside of its partner districts to attend the conference.

The conference brings together some of the nation's most respected researchers, including IFL founder, Director, and distinguished cognitive scientist, Distinguished University Professor Lauren Resnick and the IFL Fellows, practitioners who are experts at teaching content, including those who recently authored Content Matters, an authoritative guide for improving teaching, learning, and literacy in content area classrooms published by Jossey Bass. The authors offer a framework that is designed to prepare students to master the rigorous academic content learning required for college success. Resnick, in her foreword says, "This small book may start a revolution—a revolution that ends the long and agonizing debates between 'thinking skills' and 'content knowledge,' between 'teacher expertise' and 'central curriculum,' between 'ensuring the basics' and 'reaching for the top.' Arguments about these issues have been roiling the education policy world, often with little impact on the real world of teaching and teachers. Now research has produced a new understanding of how to improve learning and build professional organizations that learn every day."

Conference sessions will cover best practices for core curriculum courses; content experts discussing their recent contributions to their area of expertise; teaching methodologies that enhance student performance; opportunities for collaboration; and guidance on helping school district administrators increase numbers of college ready graduates.


The Content Matters Conference is open to district and school administrators, chief academic officers, chief school officers, and superintendents. A superintendent who partnered with the Institute for Learning says, "If you believe that all students in your school district can develop the rigorous academic content required for college success, then this practical book Content Matters provides a road map for actualizing that belief." The conference gets inside the practical ways to implement these routines and practices in the classroom to get results.

The Content Matters Conference events will deliver critical information school professionals need to succeed and grow and provide outstanding opportunities for development of technical and administrative skills and networking. May 5-6, 2010, is open to the public and May 7, 2010, is a planning retreat for the IFL partner districts.

Day 1 — Wednesday, May 5th

3:30-7:00 PMConference RegistrationFifth Floor
4:45-5:15 PMNewcomers' Welcome
Rosita Apodaca, IFL Fellow & Lauren B. Resnick, Distinguished University Professor, University of Pittsburgh
6:15-7:15 PMMeet the Authors ReceptionLos Angeles
7:15-8:30 PM
Welcome and Introduction
Rosita Apodaca, IFL Fellow
Fifth Floor – G
Developing Powerful Literacies: Literacy for College and Beyond
Kris Gutiérrez, University of Colorado
Fifth Floor – G

Day 2 — Thursday, May 6th

7:00-8:30 AMBreakfast (Continued Registration Available)Halsted
8:30-10:00 AM
Concurrent sessions
Content Matters at Elementary, Too!
Donna DiPrima Bickel, Deb Jordan, Lillie Sipp, & Monica Swift, IFL Fellows
Don't Toss Out the Lit Books Just Yet
Stephanie McConachie, Vivian Mihalakis, & Annette Seitz, IFL Fellows
Melting Pots and Pressure Cookers: Thinking Historically to Investigate the Present
Lawrence Charap & Joan Mohr, IFL Fellows
Two Peas in a Pod: Mathematical Habits of Thinking and Content
Victoria Bill, Sandy Campo, Ido Jamar, & LuAnn Malik, IFL Fellows
Science Matters: Advancing ALL Students through Science
Birdy Reynolds & Sam Spiegel, IFL Fellows
10:00-10:15 AMBreakHalsted
10:15-11:30 AMConcurrent sessions cont'dSee rooms above
11:30-12:30 PMLunchHalsted
12:30-1:45 PM
Concurrent sessions
Supporting Every Reader, Discipline by Discipline
Carol D. Lee, Professor, Northwestern University
Using Video to Study Mathematics Teaching and Learning
Miriam Gamoran Sherin, Associate Professor, Northwestern University
1:45-2:00 PMBreakHalsted
2:00-3:15 PM
Concurrent sessions
The Three Cs and V of Comprehension Instruction
Isabel Beck, Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh
Science Teaching and Learning: Why is it Critical?
George D. "Pinky" Nelson, Professor, Western Washington University
Reading Like a Historian: Why it Holds the Key to Adolescent Literacy
Sam Wineberg, Professor, Stanford University
3:15-4:00 PMCoffee and Conversation with Lauren Resnick and SpeakersHalsted