Doug Lemov states that “great teaching is an art” and that “great teachers are are made and not born”. In version 2.0 of Teach Like a Champion, there is a deeper and more specific treatment of how to check for understanding and also some discussion on rigorous questioning to engage students in rigorous learning. He advocates identifying ‘great teachers through data’ and has drawn out those techniques that are ‘concrete and actionable’- they have been proven to work and the deliberate practice and honing of these techniques could give improvement to outcomes. He has drawn criticism for an over reliance on high stakes test scores (here); a feature of his work in US Charter Schools. He explains that his work is not a system, but lots of small discrete techniques that can be picked up and added to what we already do- so not a whole scale change or over-arching approach. This is reminiscent of HeadGuruTeachers ‘Pedagogy Postcards’ and the ‘Silver Arrows’ idea of things to do on a small scale that can make an impact straight away. It’s about doing little things right and then better.
I began a recent Y9 chemistry lesson with a ‘DO NOW’ (P161- technique 20) task. TLAC is clear in this having no introduction, a strict 3-5 minute time limit and a selective pick-up of student responses in no more than 5 minutes.
In terms of actionable data, this activity told me that 6 students couldn’t draw out a model of an atom and that they were pretty good at explaining why the money I’d set on fire last lesson didn’t actually burn. I was really impressed with their description of distillation and reference to different boiling points- I did pick up with them the idea of fractions but that was all. Sticking with the strict time limit does leverage more learning time and gives some useful data on what students have retained and can apply from a previous lesson.
In this lesson, I made ‘a consistent investment in knowledge transmission’ (as I’d planned to do anyway) on chromatography which students would need to apply later to solve a scientific problem. To support my fact transmission and to model note taking, I prepared an example of ‘BOARD = PAPER’ (P169- technique 22). I gave some of my students an organiser to fill in which mirrors my notes, and told them to ‘make your paper look like mine.’I gave the organiser below on ‘chromatography’. The pictures below show the completed organizer and a sample of that students usual notes- I think he takes away notes which are readable and complete. I suppose success would be doing this a few times and then reducing the support until they can create their own?
As a final part to this unit I re-worked the end-of-unit test to a multiple choice sheet using Quick Key. I would normally do this in Google Classroom, but as I’m moving soon to a school with limited IT I wanted to try QuickKey out as a paper based alternative. I re-worked the questions to bring in more misconceptions and included a longer extended writing section for the students. The test ran well and I was able to scan in most of the cards very quickly. Some learning here in insisting on pencils and rubbers, as some students had used pen and then crossed out an answer and colored another circle- these don’t scan and had to be entered manually. The new ‘upload image’ section also isn’t great, with quite low resolution- I had to add in a diagrams sheet to help.
The first image shows the card students complete- QuickKey generate these with each students code. Second image shows the quiz creator and the final shows the down loadable report on how they all did. This gives great (and fast) data on what they don’t seem to have grasped- in this case no one got question 17 right! I was able to put together a sheet which I constructed live with the class using a visualiser which picked up on their misunderstandings.