Getting ready for tomorrow’s campus book study found me reading about classroom procedures in Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion. Often I’ll attend an inservice or read an article and be reminded of techniques I used long ago but abandoned for some reason. A sort of, “Hey, I used to do that and it helped a lot. Why did I quit? I’ll start that up again.” In this section of the book, however, I was hit with a few new (to me) ideas.
How do you pass out papers? Every class I’ve been in, taught, watched on video passes papers from the front of the room to the back. Every once in a while I’ll get a wild hair and pass them back-to-front just to keep the kids in the back from whining. It’s a non-issue in my default seating arrangement of clusters of four desks. Lemov says we’ve been doing it wrong. Pass papers sideways across the rows. Why? Kids don’t have to turn around. Brilliant! They hand papers to the side, they don’t turn their back to you (or toss papers over their shoulder onto the floor). It even breaks the “Power T” that most teachers are stuck in.
Lemov also made me think about my warm-ups (again). I try to have three warm-up questions. All of them approachable review questions. However the third question is the most accessible. Even kids who have been absent or just enrolled can answer question three. Something like, “Draw a rectangle with a perimeter of 24,” or “Describe a math word you used yesterday.” I think it’s a mistake to make that the final question, and I plan to make it the first question in the future. It’s intended to allow all students to do meaningful work on the warm-up. However, struggling students never reach that question. They see the first question and stare at it for four minutes (or start chatting with their neighbor for four minutes). Those who aren’t struggling will still make it to the other problems, just in a different order.