Thursday, July 29, 2010

Teach Like a Champion - Doug Lemov Chapter Three: You Techniques

Chapter Three:  Structuring and Delivering Your Lessons

I/We/You - otherwise known as Direct Instruction, Guided Practice, and Independent Practice.  With I/We/You responsibility is gradually released from student to teacher.  A teacher must pay attention to both the manner in which work is released to students but also to the rate at which cognitive work is released.
This chapter is a long one so I'll break them down by techniques.

You Techniques – Shifting to student practice

19.     At Bats – Repetition!  Lots of practice (Pg. 104)
·      Great lessons should have plenty of opportunities for students At Bats.
·      10-20 repetitions instead of 2 – 3.
·      Go until they can do it on their own.
·      Use multiple variations and formats.
·      Grab opportunities for enrichment and differentiation (push students to the next level.)
·      At Bats is often contrary to the argument you hear from kids and teachers when they state “why do they have to do something 20 times?  The key here is to arm your reasoning for practice with research and to take into account the importance of grabbing opportunities for enrichment in practice.  Marzano’s book, Classroom Instruction That Works, states someone must do something 75 – 100 hundred times before they master the skill.

20.     Exit Ticket – A single question, sentence or sequence of problems to solve at the close of a class or lesson.  Allows you to check for understanding in a way that provides strong data and thus critical insights. (Pg 106)
·      Quick – 2 to 3 questions
·      Designed to yield data
·      They make great “Do Nows” (Technique 29)

21.     Take a Stand – A technique that pushes students to actively engage in the ideas around them by making judgments about the answers their peers provide. (Pg 106)
·      Students process more content
·      Helps teacher check for understanding
·      Careful not to let technique become cursory

Teach Like a Champion - Doug Lemov Chapter Three: We Techniques

Chapter Three:  Structuring and Delivering Your Lessons

I/We/You - otherwise known as Direct Instruction, Guided Practice, and Independent Practice.  With I/We/You responsibility is gradually released from student to teacher.  A teacher must pay attention to both the manner in which work is released to students but also to the rate at which cognitive work is released.
This chapter is a long one so I'll break them down by techniques.

We Technique – Portion of the lesson completed together as teacher and student.

16.     Break it Down – Respond to a lack of clear student understanding by breaking a problematic idea into component parts. (Pg 88) 
·      Provide an example then ask for another
·      Provide Context – Effective only if student knows the word or component.
·      Provide a Rule – often prompts student with correct response.
·      Provide the Missing (or First) Step – Best as cues.
·      Rollback – Repeat the student’s incorrect response.  This is often sufficient to get a student to instantly recognize their error.
·      Eliminate False Choices – review insufficient choices and discuss errors.
·      Breaking it down too often comes naturally.   The problem with this coming naturally for me is that I don’t allow the opportunity to think of responses in advance, which doesn’t allow me to precipitate misunderstandings to a particular lesson.  Advance planning will lead to stronger lesson development!

17.     Ratio – Push more and more of the cognitive work out to the students as soon as they are ready with the understanding that the cognitive work must be on task, focused and productive.  The goal is to get more students to participate. (Pg 92)
*  Always focus on upping your ratio in the classroom
·      Unbundle – Break questions into smaller parts and share the work to more students and force them to react to one another.
·      Half-Statement – Express half of an idea and let the student finish it.
·      What’s Next – Ask about the process, not the product.
·      Feign Ignorance – Turn the tables and pretend you don’t know.
·      Repeated Examples – Push
·      Whys and Hows – Push for more.
·      Supporting Evidence – Support opinion.  This is more cognitive than providing opinion.
·      Batch Process – Students respond in discussion.  Limit this discussion by interjecting.  It’s volleyball, not soccer.  (Soccer team passes to each other continually, need teacher guidance for appropriate discussion)  Three than me.  Must teach habits of discussion first.
·      Discussion Objectives – Focus discussion on the most productive and rigorous points only.

18.     Check For Understanding – Used to determine when and whether students are ready for more responsibility and when they need material presented again i.e. Two parts:  check for understanding (gathering data) and do something about it right away (responding to data.)  (Pg. 97)
·      Requires teacher to think of the answers to questions as data in terms of:
o   Data Sets – Reflect on questions in groups
o   Statistical Sampling – Sample the entire room, all levels
o   Reliability – Don’t stop at just one answer
o   Validity – Align questions with what students will be accountable for at the termination of the lesson or unit.
·      Observation –Observation by circulating the room and checking written response is an excellent way to check for understanding.
o   Easier to do when responses are standardized in a particular format (notebook entries, packets.)
·      Respond to Data Quickly – The shorter the delay between recognizing a gap in mastery and taking action to fix it, the more likely the intervention is to be effective.
o   Reteach using a different approach
o   Reteach by identifying the problem step
o   Reteach by identifying and explaining difficult terms
o   Reteach at a slower pace
o   Reteach using a different order
o   Reteach identifying students of concern (small group)
o   Reteach using more repetitions
·      Checking for understanding is key during any lesson and perhaps one of the most necessary techniques if students are to get anything from instruction.  I’ve always been a fan of student notebooks for observation techniques.  They give me the opportunity to check on every student and then quickly confer with that student to their level of understanding.  Doing something about that understanding is imperative.  However, I never realized the importance of speed to correct that misunderstanding in this step.  Though I correct most misunderstandings immediately, I appreciate the reminder here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov - Chapter Three: I Techniques

Chapter Three:  Structuring and Delivering Your Lessons

I/We/You - otherwise known as Direct Instruction, Guided Practice, and Independent Practice.  With I/We/You responsibility is gradually released from student to teacher.  A teacher must pay attention to both the manner in which work is released to students but also to the rate at which cognitive work is released.
This chapter is a long one so I'll break them down by techniques.

I Techniques

12.     The Hook – When necessary, use a short, engaging introduction to excite students about learning. (Pg 75)
·      Story – Tell a story that leads directly to the material
·      Analogy – Connect to students’ lives with an interesting and useful analogy
·      Prop
·      Media – Picture, music, video
·      Status – Describe something great
·      Challenge – Give the students a difficult task and let them try to accomplish it
Hooks are short, they give way to great teaching and they are energetic and optimistic.

13.     Name the Steps – Teach complex skills by breaking them down into manageable steps, giving each step a name so it can easily be recalled.
(Pg 77)
·      Identify the Steps – no more than 7
·      Make Them Sticky – Name the steps with a story or a mnemonic device
·      Build the Steps – Design well
·      Use 2 Stairways – relate to the current problem as well as any problem of the same nature as you are teaching.

14.     Board = Paper – Learning to take notes. (Pg 82)
·      Expect students to make exact replicas of what is on the board.  “Make your paper look just like mine.”

15.     Circulate – Moving strategically around the room during all parts of the lesson. (Pg 84)
·      Break the Plane – Do this within the first 5 minutes of every lesson.  The plane is the imaginary line that runs down the length of the classroom parallel to and about 5 feet in front of the board.
·      Full Access Required – In addition to breaking the plane you must have full access to the entire room otherwise students will quickly establish a “no fly zone” and ownership will be ceded to the students.  You should never say “excuse me” to one student in order to get to another student.
·      Move Without Interrupting Your Teaching
·      Engage When You Circulate – work the room, make frequent verbal and non-verbal interventions.
·      Move systematically but unpredictably as this exerts accountability.
·      Position for Power – Always face as much of the class as possible, power position is where you see students but they can’t see you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov - Chapter Two

Chapter Two: Planning that Ensures Academic Achievement

Great lessons don’t just happen. They must be planned well in advance. Chapter two provides techniques that will ensure good planning before a teacher walks into the classroom to teach the lesson.

6. Begin With the End in Mind – Not what will my students do today but what will my students understand today (Pg 57)
• Progressing from unit planning to lesson planning
• Using a well-framed objective to define the goal of each lesson
• Determining how you’ll assess your effectiveness in reaching your goal.
• Deciding on your activity
• I’ve rewritten my essential learnings in plain English and will always start with them at the beginning of my lesson planning.

7. 4MS – 4 Criteria for Effective Objectives (Pg 61)
• Manageable (objective met in a single lesson)
• Measureable – Write your objective so you can measure it at the end of class. (Exit ticket, outcome sentence)
• Made First – Write your objective to guide your activity. Begin with the end in mind.
• Most Important – Focus on what’s most important on the path to college.
• I have never thought of writing an objective to be met in a single lesson as I’ve always associated objectives with unit planning but of course this makes complete sense. It’s not that I didn’t have outcomes for daily lessons, just never thought of them as objectives.

8. Post It – Post your objective so everyone can identify your purpose for teaching (use Plain English.) (Pg 63)
• The 4MS resonates with me. I always post the day’s for all to see but fail to mention the objective. From now on this will be the first item written.

9. Shortest Path – Activities should always be the most direct route to the goal (mastery of the objective) (Pg 64)
• I’m having a hard time accepting this one 100% of the time. Sometimes most direct may not be most authentic, then what?

10. Double Plan – Always plan for both teacher and student for each phase of the lesson. (Pg 65)
• T-Charts work well for this

• I’ve always used a t-chart type idea for planning my lessons only they look more like outlines instead. Teacher phase at the top, students below. This makes sense to me. I want to know and want to communicate, in advance, what my students will be doing when I am teaching. That way, they know what I expect of them.

11. Draw the Map – Always select the appropriate classroom layout for all lessons. (Pg 67)
Ask yourself
• When should students interact?
• How should students interact?
• Which kinds of interactions support the objective?
• How does the seating layout support the above?
• Doug Lemov prefers students in pairs, in row fashion, and I couldn’t agree more. I like the proximity this arrangement provides to each student. I don’t quite agree that the primary focus is the teacher/board especially in a student-centered classroom.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Teach Like a Champion Reflections

Summer reading for a teacher is always interesting.  Assigned summer reading, well another story completely.  That's why I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my copy of Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov.   His premise is that great teaching is an art and just like great artists there are great teachers.  Behind every artist there is an artisan.  The book, Teach Like a Champion, provides teachers with 49 tried and true techniques that are used consistently in Teach for America schools across the nation.  These tools aim to equip the classroom teachers so they too, can become great teachers.  Notes for chapter one follow.

Chapter 1 – High Academic Expectations           

High expectations are the most reliable driver of high student achievement, even in students who do not have a history of successful achievement. This chapter looks at five techniques that raise expectations and differentiate great classrooms from the merely good ones.

1.     No Opt Out – sequence that ends with a student answering a question as often as possible (Pg 34)
·      Cues vs. hints – cue guides a student into discovery, hint suggests student is incapable on own
·      The place where answer can be found – teacher asks where in book answer can be found
·      The step in the process that’s required – teacher asks this of class or student so student in question can be guided
·      Another name for the term that is the problem – if student hears another word for the term, he/she may arrive at the answer.
·      This is an old Denny McLaughlin trick I’ve been using for years but never to the extent I read here.  I like, and will work at incorporating, the ideas that extend further than just asking another student for the answer and then returning back to the original student.  The goal is to provide students as many opportunities for success in the classroom as possible.

2.     Right is Right – Set and defend a high standard of correctness in your classroom (Pg 37)
·      Hold out for all the way – do not accept partial answers
·      Students should answer the question, not a question they want to answer
·      Accept only the right answer at the right time.  Nothing more.
·      Use technical vocabulary at all times.
·      Need to seriously work on the this technique as I often find myself answering – that’s close.  Close is not good enough.

3.     Stretch It – Sequence of learning does not end with the right answer.  Reward right answers with follow-up questions that extend knowledge and test for reliability.  Good for differentiation. (Pg 42)
·      Ask How or Why
·      Ask for another way to answer
·      Ask for a better word
·      Ask for evidence
·      Ask students to integrate a related skill.
·      Ask students to apply the same skill in a new setting
·      I have to say that time constraints often keep me from stretching it.  I need to remember that learning is a passion and that passion can only grow from constant stretching.

4.     Format Matters – “The Complete sentence is the battering ram that knocks down the door to college.”  It’s not what students say that matters but how they say it. (Pg 47)
·      Identify the error
·      Begin the correction
·      I do use proper format in the classroom and expect my students to do so as well.  I often begin corrections they must complete.  I think this is essential if they are going to communicate in a future setting, as I have no idea what that future setting will be.  I prepare for the most important and formal setting.  Students can always practice informal speech and response on their own.

5.     Without Apology – There is no such thing as boring content.  (pg 51)
Alternatives to Apology
·      This material is great because it’s really challenging.
·      Lots of people don’t understand this until they go to college but you know it now
·      This can help you succeed
·      This gets more and more exciting the better you understand it
·      Excellent example provided by the author at the beginning of the technique.  He enrolls in a poetry class and almost doesn’t take the class because he thinks the content boring.  The teacher never apologizes for teaching Yeats and the author finds himself riveted by class.  I have heard myself apologize for content when teaching certain aspects of Physics or Earth Science, or most recently when reviewing the school’s Acceptable Use Policy.  Will work on this!

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Having just read Heading in a New Direction I immediately began to wonder if the only way changes will occur in the field of educational technology is if change is driven from the top as mentioned in the above blog.  I sure hope not.

Who are the drivers of change?  History has a unique answer to this question.  Historical revolutions point at people and society being the instigators of change.  Many a king or ruler have been deposed by the people they govern.  Change came from within, from individuals wanting something better for themselves and their countries.  The same ought to be for educational technology in the classrooms. 

Leaders in educational technology need to bring awareness to teachers regarding what technology can do to increase student learning and interaction in the classroom.  When teachers begin to demand the tools to allow them to become more effective in the classroom, changes can and will occur.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Reflection from the ISTE 2010 Leadership Bootcamp

Being a part of the first ISTE Leadership Bootcamp was exciting.  The opportunity to connect with and listen to so many visionary leaders in technology was exciting and provided the opportunity to expose myself to forward thinking in educational technology.  Attending the Leadership Bootcamp affirmed my beliefs that educational technology must be progressive, question existing school policy, and expose students to the world in which they live at school.

We must begin to prepare our students for success in a knowledge based, technology driven, globally competitive world by providing time, practice and instruction in that world so they can experience that world in a safe, responsible and challenging way.  No longer are schools confined by location or time as the opportunities for informal education increase.  By communicating, collaborating and creating the future with our students we can begin to transform our schools into high performance environments where students are expected to be and are high achievers.  However, in order to provide these experiences and environments to our students we must spend time in them and experience them ourselves.  We must also reevaluate our school policies related to technology so they reflect the attitude of continuous learning.  

Social online networking need not be solely for students.  Lucy Gray discussed the positive opportunities that social networking has for teachers and how the sharing of such resources can strongly enhance an educators professional development.  The development of a personal learning network for educators is a powerful tool and a first step in understanding the worlds our students encounter on a daily basis when they are not in school.  The use of Twitter and other types of social networking connect teachers from all areas of the world and unite them in a common discussion rich in the sharing of resources.  Student book reviews are no longer stagnant when students from other parts of the world comment on posts via blogs or twitter.  Historical character studies become real when students reenact their lives via profile creations on Twitter.  Finding opportunities to bring these tools into the classroom to enhance learning can provide engaging and authentic experiences for our students.  

We have an obligation to our students to introduce them to a 21st Century global world through tools and applications that connect one another.  This idea is often regarded as a fearful one by school districts because it opens the doors of our schools to the outside world.  Often our school policies around the use of technology perpetrate this fear.  Acceptable Use Policies are developed to provide a safety net surrounding this fear.  Perhaps the most forward idea I heard at the Leadership Bootcamp came from Scott McLeod when he proposed doing away with Acceptable Use Policies and, instead, using the school discipline code to deal with problematic issues arising from the use of technology. After all, these types of disturbance are disciplinary in nature and should be treated as such.  He suggested many school districts treated issues arising from the use of technology with a prohibition-type approach instead a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) approach.  The prohibition approach denies the activity.  For example, a ban on social networking by a school.  The DUI approach puts mechanisms in place that deal with the small percentage of the population that have trouble following the law or rule.  Prohibition failed in the 20th century and has no place in 21st Century schools.

Chris Lehman challenged us with a thought - "What if high school were not preparation for real life, what if high school was real life?"  Ideas must live in practice.  We must build systems and structures that reflect this vision if education is to succeed.