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About Michael Milone, Ph.D.

Dr. Michael Milone is a nationally recognized research psychologist and award-winning educational writer. He has taught in general and special education programs at all levels and is fluent in American Sign Language. During his career, Milone has been involved in the development of traditional and digital assessments and instructional materials for a broad range of test and curriculum companies. He currently serves as an adviser for Velocity, a new digital learning solution that reinvents personalized instruction.

Dr. Milone served on the board of directors of the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP), and was a member of the Literacy Assessment Committee and a past chair of the Technology and Literacy Committee of the International Reading Association. He is the current chair of the Readability Special Interest Group of the International Literacy Association. He contributed to both readingonline.org and Technology & Learning magazine on a regular basis. Three of Dr. Milone's novels have been published, and several applications he has developed are available at the App Store. In his free time, he trains for marathons, triathlons, and other events that are better left to younger people.

  • Life Is A Science Project, And So Is Teaching

    Posted By Michael Milone, Ph.D. | Jun 14, 2017
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    A foundational ability of humans is the willingness to try things to see how they work out. This might be the most important talent we have developed. Imagine one of our ancestors long, long ago struggling with hair in her face as she managed the family fire while keeping the children from being eaten by a cave bear. She tried the Flintstone’s bone-in-hair approach, and that didn't work. Frustrated, she grabs a piece of flowering vine in one hand and her streaming locks in the other. Deftly wrapping the vine around her hair, she invents the hair tie and hair flair at the same time!

    Throughout history, we have admired those who tried things, failed, kept trying, and eventually succeeded.

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  • Mysterious Learners: What's Going On with Them?

    Posted By Michael Milone, Ph.D. | May 03, 2017
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    A colleague and I have been looking at progress and outcome measures for a number of students using different interventions. We are doing this the old-fashioned way, not through data analytics (all the rage these days), but by reviewing every single detail we can find. These data are being plotted visually to see if some patterns emerge that might allow us to draw some general conclusions. After much plotting and discussion, we came to a remarkably insightful conclusion that I would like to share with you. (Slight drumroll, please.) We had no idea what was going on.

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  • Distracted Reading: Sometimes, It Is a Great Notion

    Posted By Michael Milone, Ph.D. | Apr 19, 2017
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    It is a truth universally acknowledged that any reader in possession of a good book must be attentive. If those words sound familiar, then you know what I am talking about. If they are new to you, then you have a very important work of literature to include on your “I'd better read this” list. Paying attention is a consummation devoutly to be wished in most circumstances, from successfully implementing a recipe in the kitchen to driving a horseless carriage, sometimes called a motorcar. By so doing, we are more likely to accomplish our goal, whatever it might be, whilst avoiding the less-than-pleasant circumstance of inconveniencing others. The need for attention is especially compelling for young learners, whose minds have not yet accumulated the sense or sensibility of their elders. Please do not mistake my urgings, for like you, I recognize the importance of attending to the task at hand, no matter what it might be.

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  • Curiouser and Curiouser: The Importance of Intellectual Curiosity

    Posted By Michael Milone, Ph.D. | Mar 08, 2017
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    The reason for this blog’s title will become clear in the next two paragraphs. It is, as you undoubtedly remember, a phrase uttered by Alice during her adventures in Wonderland. This fantastic work of Charles Dodgson—pen name Lewis Carroll—is well worth reading, if you haven't done so, or re-reading, if you have. The first two paragraphs alone are so short and elegant as to warrant memorization, and they include the thoughtful observation, “...and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice ‘without pictures or conversation?’” When we think of the growth mindset, the two characteristics most often mentioned are intelligence and effort. What is just as relevant, but often overlooked, is intellectual curiosity. Sophie von Stumm and her colleagues have described it as “the hungry mind” and “the third pillar of academic success,” which are perfectly appropriate. You might want to take the time to read their scholarly work, or considerably less time to read a commentary on their study.

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  • Typical and Maximal: Both Types of Performance are Important

    Posted By Michael Milone, Ph.D. | Jan 11, 2017
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    Please bear with me through the first few sentences. They are necessary to establish a bit of background. The good stuff will follow shortly. And don't eye-roll me about transporting (think Star Trek) a construct from sports or personnel management to education. It works well. In the field of psychological testing, a difference exists between typical and maximal performance. When personality is measured, we hope to identify typical characteristics. When abilities are measured, we try to get subjects to do their best so we can understand what their maximal performance is. I'm not going to dwell on this, but keep in mind that both measures take place at a single point in time, and humans change. So, you got it? There is a difference between typical and maximal performance.

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  • Talk the Walk

    Posted By Michael Milone, Ph.D. | Oct 05, 2016
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    People who have read any of my work know I’m an expert at misappropriating titles, expressions, and other text. The title of this piece is a perfect example of a poorly executed mash up of talk the talk, walk the walk.

    In this case, the point I’m making is that talking yourself through complex tasks (the walk) really works. We should be using this process when we teach and also encourage students to do it themselves when they are facing academic and other challenges.

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  • One Brain, Two Systems

    Posted By Michael Milone, Ph.D. | Sep 21, 2016
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    How do we think? It depends.

    As you undoubtedly know, thinking about some things is easier than others. Here’s an example based on two related questions.

    Question 1: How many days are in a year?

    Question 2: How many days are in 80 years?

    To answer Question 1, you engage brain System 1. This is a relatively automatic set of responses that require little effort, at least for most people. Once you learn there are 365 days in a typical year, you can retrieve that information effortlessly.

    To answer Question 2, you engage brain System 2. Using this system requires more effort and concentration. You might call it higher-level thinking, and it can get complicated.

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  • High Fidelity for High Technology

    Posted By Michael Milone, Ph.D. | Aug 31, 2016
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    Here’s the most excellent example of stating the obvious in the history of educational research. When an intervention is implemented with high fidelity, it is more effective than when it is implemented with low fidelity. Really, it’s that simple … and obvious.

    So, what is this fidelity of implementation thing? Simply put, fidelity of implementation describes the extent to which delivery of an instructional practice adheres to the protocol on which it was developed or field tested. Or as my father liked to say when I was fiddling with assembling models as a kid, “Do it the way the instructions say.”

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  • Making Mistakes: It’s a Good Thing

    Posted By Michael Milone, Ph.D. | May 11, 2016
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    The essence of learning is change. For learning to take place, there must be a change in behavior, cognition, or emotion. In all cases, learning is change. It's not just a good idea, it's the law. If there is no change, there is no learning.

    No, this is not an example of the “appeal to extremes” logical fallacy, also known as reductio ad absurdum. Nor is it evidence that I was raised in a Skinner Box. (The row house in South Philadelphia where I spent my first five years was home to three generations, including a grandmother who was born in Ireland.) Learning equals change.

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  • You're Not Average

    Posted By Michael Milone, Ph.D. | Apr 06, 2016
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    And neither are your students

    Pause for a moment before you continue reading. Think about your friends, your family, your students. Think about yourself. Is anyone average? Of course not. All of us are typical in some ways and not-so-typical in others.

    Moreover, this typicality is situational. My wife has spent much of her adult life being the shortest (but cutest) person in the room. My family is relatively tall, and so are our friends. When we visited Hong Kong, she was ecstatic because she was taller than most of the women we encountered. When she went shopping, they had lots of things in her size. (I should add that, despite her shopping disability, my wife has accomplished much in her life, and our house is packed with awards she has won as the CEO of a specialty hospital.)

    With these two thoughts in mind—no one is average, and comparisons are situational—consider this question: Why is “average” in the statistical sense such a dominant theme in education? Why do so many people, especially policy makers and politicians, insist on ranking students, schools, teachers, and pretty much everything else on a single number, usually the average? The answer, of course, is because it is easy, and because in the past, looking at averages was a reasonable way to approach some challenges.

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