Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

08.26.14Introducing the Teach Like a Champion 2.0 Cover Models (Video)

TLac2 0_cover_webTeach Like a Champion 2.0  is a done deal. Once a book has a cover there’s no going back and you can see the new cover at left.  Consider this its official unveiling. I thought I’d use the occasion to introduce you to the two incredible teachers who appear on the cover. They are Bryan Belanger and Yasmin Vargas.  Here’s a bit more about each of them, their results, and some clips of their teaching.

Bryan, an 11-year veteran who hails from Maine, teaches 8th grade math at Troy Prep Middle School in Troy, NY. For the last two years, his students have been some of the very top performers on the new, more rigorous, New York State Assessment, this despite a poverty rate above 95%. During the 2012-2013 school year, 74% of Bryan’s students scored advanced or proficient on the New York State Math Exam, putting them in the top 2% of 8th grade classrooms in the state. This year 88% of his students scored proficient or better–6th highest in the state—and, even better, 59% scored at level 4– which initial calculations showed to be the 2nd highest percentage of advanced students in the state.

Here are a couple of clips of Bryan in action. I’ve chosen examples of him demonstrating a technique called Show Me that’s new to Teach Like a Champion 2.0, and part of the first of two chapters on Check for Understanding.  Bryan asks his students to use hand signals to share objective data, in unison, on their answers. Bryan then uses that data to inform his instruction. In the first of the clips he reviews a problem based on the fact that a couple of students gave answer #4 incorrectly, cold calling one off the students who initially got it wrong to recap the right answer. In the second he notes that almost everyone got it right so he tests for reliability (and Stretches It a little) by asking one student to explain his answer. He also makes his use of Show Me fun for students—and effective in terms of getting everyone to answer on cue–by turning it into a game of “Rock Scissors Paper” where students energetically bang on their desks. Bryan uses this method to review his Do Now at the beginning of class and it’s worth noting that his whole class doesn’t look like this—there’s lots of independent work and deep diving into more rigorous open-ended questions too.

Yasmin was for many years a star 1st grade lead teacher at North Star Academy’s Vailsburg Elementary Schools. Her students consistently performed dramatically above grade level on the open-ended STEP assessment and on nationally-normed tests—more than 90% above grade level. Her teaching skill resulted in her becoming principal of Vailsburg Elementary where 98% of students scored advanced or proficient on the NJASK ELA exam, exceeding the New Jersey state average by over 20%. Those numbers are especially compelling given the challenge of ELA—where levels of mastery are harder to gain than in math and where the correlation between socio-economic status and achievement is stronger than in math. (As with Bryan, more than 90% of Yasmin’s students qualify for free and reduced price lunch). You can see a couple of the techniques Yasmin uses to boost literacy in our clips of her. In the first clip she’s usingWait Time to cause students to think more intentionally and deeply about her questions.

In the second clip she uses another technique that’s new to Teach Like a Champion 2.0, one that’s called Habits of Discussionto socialize students to build off one another’s answers so discussions are a shared endeavor in developing thinking.

As a side note, none of Yasmin’s rigorous work on reading in these clips would come off without a rock solid classroom culture that lets her work in small groups, for example, knowing that all other students will be productively engaged.

Anyway, it’s an honor to be able to feature two exemplary teachers like Bryan and Yasmin on the cover of the new book. I hope you’ll appreciate their work as much as I did.


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