Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

01.12.14The Inside of the Bucket: Two Pictures from Jamie Davidson’s Classroom

When you use a piece of software, you think, “Hey that was cool,” and you don’t tend to think about the geeky software engineer who labored behind the scenes to write the code that contrives just the right experience every time.  I mean you know the layout of the colorful circles on Candy Crush isn’t random if you really stop to think about it, but you’re too engaged to think about the engineering.  It’s perfect because it’s invisible.

Great teaches are engineers in much the same way, crafting and designing the learning environment in ways most students (and non-teachers) would be blissfully unaware of.  They too contrive a perfect balance between illusion and reality.   Need proof?  Check out these two pictures from Jamie Davidson’s classroom.

Pepper 1 Pepper 2The first is the outside of her exciting “Got Fluency” pick bucket- it’s a fun and lively way to use Pepper to give kids practice working on reading fluency. Hooray.  We’ll read aloud and see who gets to practice reading at pace and with expression by picking a name from the bucket. The second is the inside of the bucket, which or course is not as random as it appears.  Guess whose turn it’s going to be today!

This to me is the kind of thing that makes a teacher like Jamie a sort of engineer. In Jamie’s class the kids who most need to read seem to miraculously have their name pulled at a higher rate of frequency than randomness would predict.  I’m trying to imagine Jamie NOT thinking about each  aspect of her teaching and refining it to get maximum learning leverage.

The inside of that bucket offers one really good explanation for how Jamie and teachers like her manage to be so successful.


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