Lemov & the New School

I find that the mere act of reading Doug Lemov’s book, TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION, and re-reading it, causes many of its ideas to filter into your teaching — whether you want them or not.  At least, so it is proving to mine.  And several of my new colleagues reported in casual conversation that it raised their awareness of what they do in class, and even altered their practices.

For example, my students do much more reading aloud than they used to.  That’s not a change on their part; it’s a change in how I structure my class.  They do more writing in class, right away.  They are getting more homework, but more structured homework, too.  Those aren’t changes in how they work, but again, it’s a change in how I structure my class.

What is the effect?  Part of me would like to claim that it’s too soon to tell.  Part of me would like to say that it’s just “novelty effect” — I’m a new teacher in a school with low turnover, and so they get to be the first to experience Mr. Watt.  Part of me would like to say it’s just the usual “first week of school” enthusiasm.

But it really does seem to make a difference.  I’m having to think much more carefully about WHAT I’m teaching, and not just trying to cover content.  I’m having to think about what SKILL I’m explaining, and not just what content I’m covering.

Today in 7th grade history we’re reading two letters by Hernan Cortés — one on the beauty of the city of Tenochtitlán, and one on the massacre at Cholula in conjunction with a Mexica account of the slaughter.  We’re then going to look at some sentence structures, and learn to write some sentences in the same patterns.  Ought to be interesting.

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