TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION – TECHNIQUES 1-4

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (haroldshawjr.com)

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This is part 2 of my book review on Doug Lemov’s “Teaching Like a Champion”, I will be looking at Chapter one, which is titled “Setting High Academic Expectations”.

He starts out with the following statement “One consistent finding of academic research is that high expectations are the most reliable drive of high student achievement, even in students who do not have a history of successful achievement.”

I agree with that statement quite a bit, even though my students are identified as having a disability or disabilities and entitled to Special Education services, it does not mean that they can not learn.  It might mean that they learn differently or not the same way that a teacher might teach, but they can learn.  I have and will set high expectation for my students to attain, but tempered with reality of where they actually are versus where we think they should be.

I think that this is the problem that many teachers have including myself, especially with Special Education students they over-estimate what a student has for background knowledge, which is much different than what they might be able to do, because so many of them have learned strategies to appear to know more than they actually do.  Then there is the problem with underestimating their abilities and allowing them to not work to their ability or potential.

We as the teacher have to find the balance between over and under-estimating the abilities or background knowledge of all students, that is the hard part.

Okay time to get off my soapbox and back to the book.

One thing that I do like is that Lemov does provide a name for each of his techniques, it might not be what I or others might call them, but they do give a common vocabulary to what he is talking about.

Technique 1:  NO OPT OUT “At its core is the belief that a sequence beginning with a student unable (or unwilling) to answer a question should end with that student giving the right answer as often as possible, even if it is only to repeat the correct answer”.

In the last paragraph Lemov says “…students in your classroom should come to expect that when they say they can’t answer or when they answer incorrectly, there is a strong likelihood that they will conclude their interaction by demonstrating their responsibility and ability to identify the right answer.”

I like this technique.  I have done similar things in the classroom, but I like that he goes into detail on how to engage students while ensuring that they eventually respond to the question, but to differentiate between lack of knowledge and attitude (or when one leads to the other).  This is a very powerful technique and would have helped me last year with several of my students that I had difficulty getting to answer or participate in discussions.

Technique 2:  Right is Right “Set and defend a high standard of correctness in your classroom.” …When you sign off and tell a student she is right, she must not be betrayed into thinking she can do something that she cannot…”

The first time that I read through this section I was going, mmmmm I don’t know, but when I came back to it again, Lemov is right, we owe it to our students to ensure they have done it correctly – not just partially correct or mostly correct.  I know that there have been several occasions in my teaching where I have allowed students to be somewhat correct in what they are doing, not holding them to being correct before moving on, which on looking back did not help those students.

I guess it goes back to the new philosophy that I implemented on my blog “Do or Do Not – There is no try!” (Yoda).  This is going to be one of those difficult things to implement in my classroom, because it takes more time to go back, ensure things are done/understood (reteach), before moving on.  However, in my Resource Room I believe that I have this mandate to do just that and will try to implement this technique.  In a regular education setting with stricter timelines and pacing, employing this technique would be much more difficult, not impossible, but more difficult.

Technique 3:  STRETCH IT: “The sequence of learning does not end with a right answer; reward right answers with follow-up questions that extend knowledge and test for reliability.  This technique is especially important for differentiating instruction.”

Another powerful tool that I hope and believe that many teachers use in their classrooms without giving it a name.  This is one of those fundamental teaching tools/techniques that Lemov has given a name to and defined more clearly than I have heard previously.  But then again how many teachers get the answers they are looking for and simply move on to the next thing they want to cover instead of “stretching it”?  In the Resource Room this is where the real learning can take place, especially if the students are excited about what is being worked on.  I guess before you can actually “stretch it” a teacher has to have “engaged” the students also.  The negative side to this technique is that some teachers are not prepared for “stretch it” questions/comments and are content to cover only what they initially planned for.

Technique 4:  FORMAT MATTERS:  “In school, the medium is the message: to succeed, students must take their knowledge and express it in a variety of clear and effective formats to fit the demands of the situation and of society.”

Correct format in communicating with others at the appropriate time and place is an important skill, that we have to teach our students.  Students need to know when it is okay to use slang, texting and informal communication skills and when they need to use the more formal skills that are necessary to be successful in school, work or other situations where they will be judged (fairly or not) on how they communicate with others in oral, written or symbolic presentations.

In the Resource Room this is a huge thing, many students that I work with have been allowed to “get by” or the skills are significantly below their grade expectations due to their disability.  Many of these student fight tooth and nail over this issue that format does not matter, that all that matter is that they get their point across.  This is something that I have worked hard on in the past and will continue to work on in the future, because using the correct format at the proper time and place is valued in today’s society more than many teacher’s may believe.
As Lemov states in his introduction “At the same time, the full array of techniques operates in synergy; using one makes another better, and the whole is great than the sum of the parts.”  I didn’t really think that much of that statement initially, but as I go back and reflect on what I have read, it is becoming much clearer and I am beginning to understand why he made this statement.

The four techniques that Lemov has discussed in chapter one are basic teaching skills (techniques) that should be used in our classrooms.  He has given them names, defined them, provided examples of how to use them and with the CDshows them in action.

Chapter 2 is coming up later today or tomorrow – I have already read it, but need to reflect on it a bit more before starting to write about it.

The bad thing about writing a book review and reflection on the teaching techniques in this book is that I have a feeling it is going to be a lot of writing and many posts.  Hey at least I will know, what I know when I finish
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“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda