Jun 24, 2013

Teach Like a Champion
by Doug Lemov

We use SLANT at my school. I didn't know where it came from until a teacher suggested this book. As the subtitle suggests, this book offers "49 techniques that put students on the path to college." Although I can appreciate some of these techniques, I won't use them to put my students on the path to college. I'll use them to bring structure, engagement, and fun to my classroom. It dawned on me this year--when teachers focus on college or even the next year, they forget about now. We tend to push too fast, focusing on time rather than the engagement and learning. We forget about the fun. Anyway...

As a math teacher, I found this bit quite interesting...
I often meet educators who take it as an article of faith that basic skills work in tension with higher-order thinking. That is, when you teach students to, say, memorize their multiplication tables, you are not only failing to foster more abstract and deeper knowledge but are interfering with it. This is illogical and, interestingly, one of the tenets of American education not shared by most of the educational systems in the world. Those nations are most likely to see that foundational skills like memorizing multiplication tables enable higher-order thinking and deeper insight because they free students from having to use up their cognitive processing capacity in more basic calculations. To have the insight to observe that a more abstract principle is at work in a problem or that there is another way to solve it, you cannot be concentrating on the computation. That part has to happen with automaticity so that as much of your processing capacity as possible can remain free to reflect on what you're doing. The more proficient you are at "lower-order" skills, the more proficient you can become at higher order skills.
For several years, I've waited after questions longer than usual. I did it because students stall and hope that teachers move along. However, there's more to it...
Minds work fast, and the amount of additional time necessary to improve the quality of answers may be small. Some research has shown that when students are given just three to five seconds of wait time after a question, several key things are likely to happen: The length and correctness of student responses are likely to increase. The number of failures to respond is likely to decrease. The number of students who volunteer to answer is likely to increase. The use of evidence in answers is likely to increase.
Over the last few years, I've given a lot of thought to management, rewards, and punishments. I've tried individual consequences, small-group consequences, and whole-class consequences. Long story short, I have no idea what I'm doing...
When schools or teachers over-rely on management, a death spiral ensures: students become desensitized to consequences and Machiavellian about rewards; more of each is required to achieve the same or lesser effect; students become increasingly insensitive to the larger doses, and the larger doses signal to students either the desperation of their teacher or that they are problem kids, not successful kids, and the currency is not only a positive part of an effective classroom culture.
Of all of the techniques, I will focus on a few for this school year...

To reinforce high expectations, I like No Opt Out.
When planning, I will Begin with the End.
I will Circulate as I teach.
Increasing engagement, I'll use Call and Response. If I can man up, I'll also use Vegas.
For a strong classroom culture, I can't wait to use Props.
In setting and maintaining high expectations, I will consider his ideas on No Warnings.
Positive Framing is a great way to build character and trust.
And I'll improve my pacing by remembering the age+2 rule.

Mr. Lemov has a website with ideas, videos, and a blog. Check it out.

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