Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Teach Like A Champion Chapter 2 Analysis:

(This is the second of a series of posts on Teach Like A Champion by Doug Lemov, which I am reading and reflecting on for a class for my masters at Cornerstone University)

In his second chapter, Lemov describes planning strategies that teachers ought to use to help ensure successfully meeting their objectives:

#6. Begin With The End
Plan your lessons with the end in mind. In specific:

  • Progress from unit planning to lesson planning
  • Use an objective as the goal for each lesson
  • Determine how you’ll assess your effectiveness of reaching the goal
  • Decide the activity that will accomplish the goal

#7. 4M’s
Your objectives should meet the Four M’s:

  • Manageable (time-wise, aim for completion in one lesson)
  • Measurable
  • Made first (not retrofitted to an activity)
  • Most Important

#8. Post It
You should form a habit of posting your objectives in consistent location, and referring to them during class. This will benefit your students and yourself as focusing tools, but also direct visitors toward the purpose of the day.

#9. Simplest Path
Choose the simplest and shortest technique that will lead toward mastering the objective. Flashy, cutting edge technology, group-work, or multisensory activities are not inherently good, unless they relate and build toward the goal.

#10. Double Plan
You should plan for two aspects in each lesson – that is, what YOU will do, but as importantly, what STUDENTs will do. Some teachers plan using a T chart with their actions and their students actions on either side.

#11. Draw The Map
Make space planning a part of lesson planning. Be sure the seating arrangement makes sense for meeting the objectives of the day. Don’t default to rows, or groups, or circles simply because they are “what’s supposed to be”. Make sure to actively arrange the room the way that would help serve the goal, and keep you free to accomplish your needs too.

Of the strategies Lemov described, I found Double Plan to be the most eye-opening. I had never considered what I ask my students to do while I go through my lectures each day. I had hoped they would take notes and write down my examples, but I never really planned for it. It is no surprise then that they didn’t, and that getting through my lectures was so difficult. As I read in Pollock’s book Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time, I was doomed as soon as I started hoping, instead of planning. She wonders, “How did we get to the point where teachers hope for good results rather than plan for them.” I am going to try Lemov’s double planning T-chart suggestion this year to more explicitly what the students will be doing as well.

I was encouraged by the Simplest Path strategy, because I do that already. I am skeptical about doing things just because they are popular, and Lemov reminded me that we are to choose the activities that students do so that they best meet the objectives at hand. In math classes, a lot of times that will mean rote problem solving and bookwork. Often I have felt a tinge of guilt, brought on by my interactions with coworkers and in my education classes because these sorts of assignments can be called “busy work”. I disagreed with them internally, but often voiced similar statements to appear as though I had fresh and innovative ideas and tasks for my students. The Simplest Path section reminded me that sometime a shovel is required to dig a hole, even when a piece of dynamite could work. I will more confidently assign book work and practice problems, but am keeping in mind that some of my objectives will inevitably be met with alternative activities, such as geogebra activities, virtual interactives, labs, writing prompts, and others.

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