The Book Fort

Instructional Ideas for Immediate Implementation

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Week Twenty Two: Teach Like a Champion

The most difficult time of the school year has begun — the drudgery of winter has set in. The snow has become an annoyance rather than a beautiful, magical blanket over the landscape. The children are stir crazy, and the adults have begun to count the days until Spring Break. It happens every year and there are amazing administrators all over the country trying to pump their teachers and students up through team building and positive recognition. I applaud your efforts; you never know how something small can keep a person coming back every day, especially when it is particularly difficult to get out of the car in the morning when you pull into your school parking spot.

This is the perfect time of year to re-commit, learn, and teach your hind-end off. Be the light in the dark days of January and February! As such, I bring you Part I of Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion: Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College. Don’t be deterred by the title; the techniques I will share from the first part of this book put kids and teachers on the right path to success, regardless of the post-secondary trajectory. Compared to John Madden in the Foreword, Lemov has led a high-poverty school into this success, as both a teacher and a principal. In fact, students at his school scored better on state tests than students at higher-income schools. While this isn’t the only measure (and definitely NOT the most important), it means that his students and teachers have been successful at meeting state goals, which sure gets a lot of people off your backs so you can get on with the business of teaching and learning.

Sometimes, you just need a little spark to rekindle that fire that brought us all to teaching. I have chosen to pull one strategy or point from each of the first nine chapters of Teach Like a Champion for this issue. I hope that you’ll find it useful and will use it to have collegial discussions that will result in more effective planning and teaching this winter. Check out Doug Lemov on Twitter @Doug_Lemov and @TeachLikeAChamp. There are many resources shared on both Twitter handles, #teachlikeachampion, and on the website.

Lemov, D. (2010). Teach like a champion: 49 techniques that put students on the path to college. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA.

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Website of the Week

Ditch that Textbook

This can be controversial, but I found it to be freeing in my own classroom. It is not in everyone's power to ditch their textbooks, due to mandates and oversight, but there are still some amazing resources here regardless of your ability to throw convention to the wind. The famous #ditchsummit, a free virtual PD, sparked my interest in this movement and I highly recommend taking a look. You can sign up for a newsletter, get some innovative ideas for livening up your classroom, and access free resources on Google. Check out the website, connect with the creator Matt Miller on Twitter @jmattmiller, and follow #ditchbook for new ideas. Keep your eyes open for the next #ditchsummit for free PD in your PJs also!
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Tool of the Week

Academic Selfies

I know, I know. We already take enough selfies, but here is a clever way to make this about academic achievement and self-assessment. Shared by The Kentucky Writing Project on Facebook, I had to share. What a great way to connect with parents about successes!
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What Students Are Reading

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Kristie Hofelich Ennis, NBCT

In an effort to systematically study relevant research and stay connected to the teachers I greatly respect and with whom I have worked for years to successfully implement independent reading, this newsletter came about. It will offer research and practical ideas for quick implementation and may prompt further discussion or study with your colleagues. I hope you'll find it useful and thought-provoking; I also hope you will stay in touch if you implement any of the ideas with your students. They are, after all, why I do what I do!