Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Teach Like A Champion by Doug Lemov, a Jossey-Bass Teacher review

TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION, 49 Techniques That Put Students On the Path to College, by Doug Lemov ($27.95) from Jossey-Bass Teacher, for grades K-12 is a thoughtful, well-written list of (as the title describes) 49 teaching techniques
"gleaned from years of observations of outstanding teachers in some of the highest-performing urban classrooms in the country."

For over ten years, teacher, trainer and administrator Doug Lemov has observed hundreds of classrooms, analyzing outstanding teachers who have transformed at risk students into achievers. What he found was that there is a tool box for success, and they are techniques that can be learned and employed by any teacher. As a result of Lemov’s Techniques, West Denver Prep students (93% who are qualified as low income) demonstrated the highest academic growth at any middle school in Denver for the third consecutive year in 2009, with median growth percentiles of 90% in Math, 85% in Writing, and 66% in Reading.

Doug Lemov is a Managing Director of Uncommon Schools and runs it's True North Public Schools network in upstate New York.

I immediately look for a yellow highlighter as I begin to read this book - I believe I have done that with every book that arrived from Wiley.

This one requires more equipment than a highlighter, because it comes with a DVD of video examples to illustrate points in the book. How many times have I wanted a video demonstration of a concept or objective?! The video is a nice addition. The reader gets the visual examples without having to pay for or travel to a conference.

This statement sums up what I am trying to accomplish in a remediation program as I homeschool one child: "Too often teachers have not taken the time to teach their students, step by step, what successful learning behavior looks like." page 146, from Chapter Five, Creating a Strong Classroom Culture.

Teaching what successful learning behavior looks like involves self-regulation, self-control, and self-discipline, and Teach Like a Champion recognizes that fact.

One of my favorite chapters is "Building Character and Trust," Chapter 7. Technique #49, "Normalize Error" is one I need to remember as I help a sib with homework. I think this book offers important information for parents who homeschool; parents who help school-building schooled children with homework; for teachers and tutors.

Some of the techniques will make you think to yourself, "I know that!" But do you do it? Or could you do that one better? And others will have you thinking, "I should have known to do that!" The techniques -- for all learners -- are practical to implement, appeal to my common sense and to what I know about learning and the brain, about relationships, as I've researched all those things the past nine years because of a child with autism. They're really positive, too. I like that!

Technique #5:
Without Apology. If teachers aren’t on guard, they can unwittingly apologize for teaching worthy content. Kids respond to challenges, so instead of apologizing, say: “lots of people don’t understand this until they get to college, but you’ll know it now. Cool.”

Technique #22: Cold Call. In order to make engaged participation the expectation, call on students regardless of whether they have raised their hands. Cold calling is an engagement strategy, not a discipline strategy.

Technique #45: Warm/Strict. Teachers must be both: caring, funny, warm, concerned, and nurturing – and strict, by the book, relentless, and sometimes inflexible. Teachers send the message to students that having high expectations is part of caring for and respecting someone.

One of the statements I've heard at homeschool conventions by college professors who present at conventions is that there is a big difference between public schooled students and homeschooled students in college. Homeschooled students have far superior critical thinking skills. Chapter 9 of Lemov's book is, "Challenging Students To Think Critically, Additional Techniques for Questioning and Responding to Students".

The Teach Like a Champion web site is here. A sample video clip is available there. I always look at the table of contents of a book I'm considering online. Peek at this one here. Chapter 1 is available here; the Index, here; and the DVD contents, here.

Published by Jossey-Bass, an imprint of Wiley
Publication date: April 22, 2010
$27.95; Cloth; 352 pages; ISBN: 978-0-470-55047-2

Jossey-Bass, an Imprint of Wiley, sent me this book at no charge so that I may review it on my blog. I am not compensated for reviews and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

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