Teach Like a Champion... or something like that
I think the first thing to point out is that this book is available in it’s entirety via PDF on the internets. That seems like a dead giveaway that they are doing all they can to promote this conglomeration they call a book. I think the other troubling fact is that Missouri’s Standards were based on this book (according to Parker). Let’s throw out some Missouri fun facts:
-In 2013, Missouri was number 41 out of 50 in “Quality of Education“ according to Education Week. http://www.connectmidmissouri.com/news/story.aspx?id=846672
- Missouri teachers are the 6th worst paid in the country. http://progressmissouri.org/content/10-embarrassing-facts-moleg-should-be-dealing
-A serious contender to be Missouri’s representative in the Senate believes in a little something called “legitimate rape.”
However, when looking further into the Quality Counts state by state report card for 2014 I was pleased to see that MO received 100% in a category… That category being standards. With hope renewed I tried for round 7 of attempting to read this book. I cannot lie, I only made it 2/3.. fine 3/5 of the way through the book. But to be fair, a lot of what it written is what we have been talking about in class.
Much like Teach Life a Pirate, Lemov explicitly lays out a goal for how we should be teaching then provides a detailed road map full of quips, stories and anecdotes. There are so many techniques (49) that it didn’t quite make sense to try and summarize them. But if i were going to pick a technique to talk to the class about it would be Vegas. Because who doesn’t love Vegas?
“Every lesson needs a little ‘Vegas.’” The sparkle: when you observe the production values: music, lights, rhythm, dancing. But it’s not sparkles for nothing. Vegas reinforces academics and much like the technique, it helps students remember the tidbit. Unfortunately like most trips to Vegas it is sweet, short and to the point. I liked this one because it can use daily learning objectives or it can be used to review something from a previous lesson that will be a precursor to what you are about to study. It also often involves catchy little phrases or songs that help break up the monotony that classes sometimes become. The kids don’t even realize they’re reviewing or learning because it is fun and lord knows this is how I feel like all teaching and learning should be.
There are some things about Lemov’s book that bothered me. He gave techniques that have been around forever new names, perhaps to make them more enticing, but I am not really sure. “Do now” aka morning work, bell work, entry slip.
I found some of his examples of student and teacher interactions to be dry to the point where i had to make myself read them numerous times to get the gist and many seem somewhat unrealistic of actual scenarios.
Lemov emphasizes the importance of classroom management and small, simple tasks, and as we have learned in class, these are important keys to a successful and productive classroom.
However we have read a lot about differentiation and visited last semester and revisited in greater depth this semester. It has been a large part of our work yet Lemov designates a short paragraph to differentiation. In Technique 3 he says, “We’re sometimes socialized to think we have to break students up into
different instructional groups to differentiate, giving them different
activities and simultaneously forcing ourselves to manage an
overwhelming amount of complexity. Students are rewarded with a degree
of freedom that’s as likely to yield discussions of last night’s episode
of American Idol as it is higher-order discussions of
content. Asking frequent, targeted, rigorous questions of students as
they demonstrate mastery is a powerful and much simpler tool for
differentiating. By tailoring questions to individual students, you can
meet students where they are and push them in a way that’s directly
responsive to what they’ve shown they can already do.” That seems like quite a distinct turn.
To be fair there is a ton of information in the text and like any reading it is easy to find something you disagree with or would write about differently.
I’ll wrap up by ending with a quite from the book that I found I really enjoyed, a subject we discussed quite a bit when looking at classroom management. I just thought he wrote it well, Technique 37 reads, “Some portion of student noncompliance – a larger portion than many
teachers ever suppose – is caused not by defiance but by incompetence:
by students’ misunderstanding a direction, not knowing how to follow it,
or tuning out in a moment of benign distraction. Recognizing this means
giving directions to students in a way that provides clear and useful
guidance… To be effective, directions should be specific, concrete,
sequential, and observable.”
Lemov doesn’t have it all right, but he’s not as dry as I previously thought he was. Perhaps it’s the overwhelming amount of information he gives? Perhaps it’s because this is the least interesting book I read this semester and we’re at the end? The world may never know the answer. Mainly because they’ll never read this blog.