My top 5 strategies from Teach Like a Champion 2.0
Here are 5 of the techniques from TLAC2 that I have put into practice in my class. I’ll do another post about the techniques that I want to get better at later.
1. Reject Self-Report
Rejecting self report means that we are moving past the question “Do you understand” which can give us a vague ‘yes/no’ answer. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes yes/no questions are fine, like when circling. I don’t think they are useful when we are trying to gauge whether or not to move on though. I was thinking about this the other day when having Christmas lunch with my three year old nephew. I first asked him if he ate all his food. He said ‘yes’ but here’s the thing, three year old kids lie. So I changed the question “WHAT did you eat?” well come to find out he had only ate mac and cheese! His parents want him to have a more balanced diet, so if I just stayed with the ‘yes/no’ question he would have been left with an incomplete meal, but because I went beyond yes or no to find out more information he couldn’t just get away with only eating mac and cheese and nothing else. The same is true in our classroom. If we REALLY want to know whether or not students understand something we can’t just ask them to tell us they understand. We have to ask more pointed questions about wht they understand. For me, that might be “How do we know the sentence says ‘I walk’ instead of s/he walks?” Is a lot better than just asking, “do we understand what this sentence means?”
2. Cold Calling
Cold calling is calling on students who have not volunteered to answer a question. Some people don’t like it because it feels like a “gotcha” moment. Which it definitely can be, but what I think people don’t understand about cold calling is that you can call on a student and THEN decide what question you ask them, it doesn’t always have to be question, then call. Call then question is better for me because I know what my students can do, I know how to ask them questions so that they feel successful. Am I guilty of doing an “gotcha” question? Sure, but I try to balance that with having discussions with students about consistently meeting expectations and paying attention. For my cold calling I have one set of 30 popsicle sticks with numbers 1-30 (Or whatever my biggest class is) and in each class I have assigned each student a number alphabetically. So I pull a stick, or have a student pull a stick, they tell me the number, I look at my roster and ask that student a question that I know is appropriate for them.
EDIT: Great suggestion here!
Re #2, I've read that naming the S before asking the Q lets all others off the hook for processing A, leads to tuning out. I haven't developed consistency with Q first, then name, but I'm trying.
Maybe select S (on the DL), formulate + ask Q, then name? Best of both worlds?
— Lake Mathison (@lake_mathison) January 3, 2019
3. No Opt Out
This is something that I definitely started doing but need a little more practice at. Not letting students get away with answering “I don’t know”. Whenever I get a student that says that, I try to make sure that they know I expect more from them so I say “I’m going to ask questions to two more people and come back to you, be ready”, or it may be something like asking a student the same question that I ask someone else so that they can have a little bit of a sense of achievement, even if they did just get the answer from someone else at least they can take pride in having answered the teachers question. This has worked best for me when I do cold calling with popsicle sticks. I tell students “Ok… I’m going to put your stick back in the cup be prepared next time I call your number”. In most cases this has worked to get students back on the page, but I do want to be a little more consistent with it.
Easier said than done. I’ll be completely honest… the best times that I circulate are during evaluations. That’s not to say that I don’t always circulate, but it happens a lot more during those times. I have my classroom set up, most of the time anyway, in 3 columns of 2 seats in 5 rows with two aisles that I can make my way through. For me when this is an issue is when I am speaking Spanish to my students I like to use hand gestures, and I like to write quick translations of words on my board so it’s hard to get away from my board. I’m going to try to hand that job off to a heritage speaker (a student who already speaks Spanish) this semester though so I can circulate a little better. I try to set up my classroom so that I can have proximity to every single student when I need to. Let’s get away from our desks and circulate this semester, friends!
5. Everybody Writes
This is something that I’ve worked on a lot this year. I want to find ways to make students write, not only because we need to get better at writing, but because I want students to see that they CAN put into Spanish their thoughts. I have tried to create different forms that students use for different tasks. If I can make something provide input AND give them a reason to get pencil to paper it’ll be great! So I started with Persona Especial from Bryce Hedstrom, as we interviewed a student at the front of the class I had students write three different types of things. 1) what the student says about themselves (first person) 2) what we can say about them (3rd person) and what they have in common (first person, plural) We did that almost every week and students WERE able to write about themselves later, it’s been magical. One of my issues with Everybody Writes is that Mr. Lemov suggests that students write before discussing which kind of distracts from meeting the interpersonal communication standard (two way, negotiation of meaning, and spontaneous) if students already have their answers written it’s not really spontaneous.
I was going to try to pick 10 of these to discuss, and maybe I will find more, but here are my top five so far. Later I will write about the techniques that I want to get better at, and some ideas of how I will get better at them.