Mark Schlatter's Reviews > Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College

Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov
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's review
Jul 25, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: interlibrary-loan
Read from July 20 to 24, 2012

Look at the subtitle --- the focus here is educational techniques, not strategies or philosophies. We're talking tactical exercises, not big concept thinking. In fact, Lemov often mentions that what he's describing is not the result of some theory of education, but the naming of particularly effective pieces of teaching craft. (And we know they're effective not because of academic research, but because of the high scores on standardized tests by the students of these teachers --- many of them in the Uncommon School charter group.)

And while there isn't a stated philosophical focus, the heart of the book is behavioralist. You see again and again an emphasis on clearly defined teacher actions designed to provoke specific student responses. You see a view of teaching as standards and assessment and a push to get material across as efficiently as possible. You see discussions of "transaction cost" --- the amount of time you spend on a particular classroom management action --- and how to minimize it.

The bulk of the techniques are about setting expectations and classroom culture and handling the nuts and bolts of classroom management. With the exception of a few chapters at the end, nothing is discipline specific. You won't see better ways of introducing fractions here.

If the above sounds fairly negative, well, I'm not much for behavioralism. Or to be more honest, I prefer a constructivist approach, but often turn into a behavioralist in the classroom. However, there's a reason I gave this book four stars. All of the above aside, this is a well thought out highly focused work, and I saw many techniques that I want to use in different settings. Lemov's gift is that he and the teachers he describes are always thinking about what their students are thinking at the very moment of teaching. Again and again, I was struck by the thoughtfulness behind teacher questioning and the techniques of questioning.

A note: while I read this straight through, it's hard to absorb in that fashion. I'm guessing it works much better as a reference work than a read.


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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Ned (new)

Ned Leffingwell I read this and thought is was adequate. I think that Fred Jone's Tools for Teaching is the best book from the new teacher tips genre.

message 2: by Ned (new)

Ned Leffingwell Actually I was thinking of another book, Teach Like a Champion is really good. I still recommend Tools for Teaching.

message 3: by Ned (new)

Ned Leffingwell Teaching has turned me into a bit of a behaviorist.

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