This year’s campus book study is Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College. In a twist on our usual book studies, this year each teacher on campus has selected one of the book’s classroom strategies and
filmed videotaped video recorded it in action. Watching the videos is a great way to see the book in action but also visit each others’ classrooms — even if for a few [sometimes scripted] moments.
This month our discussion dwelt on writing and wait time. The math teachers confessed they believe in the importance of writing in their content, but find it difficult to carve time for it. The language arts teachers in the room offered some great advice from the trenches:
- Model the writing you want students to produce. Let them see you write an example of the type of writing and level you expect and you will see the writing improve greatly.
- When students don’t know what to write or how to start, they should write about that. They may write, “I don’t understand how to….,” “I need more help with…,” or even, “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write.” (That last one came from an amazing writing teacher on campus who I really respect. She says after a while the brain gets bored and finally digs out something to write about.)
- If students are writing during “wait time,” it lets you see who is processing and who is stalling. It also takes care of students who quickly come up with an answer, then turn off their brains. The writing process will help them refine or improve answers. They often realize that the quick answer is not their best answer.