Doug Lemov

Messy markbooks: monitoring participation in (and across) lessons

2024-01-28T17:21:51+00:00January 20th, 2024|Featured|

Since taking the plunge with mini-whiteboards (see this post) over the past few years my ability to know whether students are paying attention, thinking and practising has dramatically increased. Because I'm usually teaching groups of children I've not met before, I always draw out a seating plan and make sure I have everyone's names recorded. With access to MWBs, it made sense to jot this information onto a whiteboard rather than a piece of paper. I'd then find myself ticking students off as I asked them questions or got them to participate in some other way to ensure I had [...]

Top Gun for Teachers

2016-12-31T15:29:19+00:00June 1st, 2016|training|

On March 3, 1969 the United States Navy established an elite school for the top one percent of its pilots. Its purpose was to teach the lost art of aerial combat and to insure that the handful of men who graduated were the best fighter pilots in the world. They succeeded. Today, the Navy calls it Fighter Weapons School. The flyers call it: TOP GUN. As I'm sure you know, these are opening credits of the 1986 movie starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer as pilots graduating the elite Navy fighter school. What you may not know is the background to [...]

What I learned in my visit to King Solomon Academy Part 2 – The Lemov lecture

2014-09-12T13:57:31+01:00September 12th, 2014|Featured|

When I reported my observations about King Solomon Academy, a number of commentators pointed out the similarities to some of the Charter Schools in the US. Any similarity is the Charter model, particularly the KIPP schools (Knowledge is Power Programme) share many of the same aims, values and structures as KSA. Although I've never visited one of these schools I was aware of the influence they've had on a number of English Free Schools and Academies. How synchronous then Doug Lemov, managing director of the Uncommon Schools network in New York state and author of the highly influential, Teach Like a Champion: [...]

Listen up: Improving the quality of classroom discussion

2014-06-29T16:17:38+01:00June 29th, 2014|learning|

We have two ears and only one tongue in order that we may hear more and speak less.Diogenes Pupils are asked to discuss stuff in class all the time. As, from time to time, are teachers. Think back to the last discussion you took part in. No matter how civilised they are, it tends to be an exercise in patience; we spend a lot of time waiting for everyone else to shut up so we can have our say. Inevitably, this de facto approach allows discussion to be dominated by the loudest, most confident participants. As John Wayne put it, we [...]

How can we make classroom observation more effective?

2014-02-22T13:00:21+00:00January 14th, 2014|learning|

If the belief that it's possible for untrained observers to pitch up in lessons and grade their effectiveness is comparable to a belief in witchcraft, (and Professor Robert Coe's research confirms that this is the case) where does that leave us as a profession? Observing lessons is the fetish du jour of almost every single school and school leader and, even if we informed and honest enough to accept that learning is invisible and that it's nigh impossible to get two observers to agree on the quality and effectiveness of a lesson, we're probably unwilling to let completely let go the [...]

Coming soon… the secret of literacy revealed

2014-01-13T09:53:19+00:00January 10th, 2014|Featured|

This isn't really a post, more a shameless piece of self-promotion. I would normally cringe at the idea of publicly bathing in the warm glow of congratulations but in this case it feels exciting enough to be worth making an exception for: one of my education heroes, Doug Lemov, the mastermind behind the Uncommon Schools network in the US and best selling author of the marvellous Teach Like A Champion and Practice Perfect took time out of his hectic schedule to say he likes my new book! In a review for The Secret of Literacy: making the implicit explicit, Doug says: [...]

The times they are a changin': how can we improve the PGCE?

2013-10-27T15:03:15+00:00October 27th, 2013|Featured, training|

Back in the dim and distant mists of time when I embarked on my Post-graduate Certificate in Education, there was no other way to train as a teacher. Much of my training was interesting and I largely enjoyed the subject specific content. But the generic stuff on professional practice was pretty awful and has largely been expunged from memory. I felt hopelessly unprepared for my first teaching practice, but then I expect that's true of most or many, but despite lots of classroom experience, lectures and having written a dissertation I was still hopelessly unprepared on being awarded QTS. I had [...]

The art of beautifully crafted sentences

2013-10-18T08:30:59+01:00October 17th, 2013|English, literacy, writing|

I came across this post on Doug Lemov's blog earlier today and instantly decided to rewrite my Year 8 lesson to make use of the ideas within. The idea is, like all good ideas, a very simple one: that pupils should be taught explicitly to construct beautiful sentences. Now, I like a good sentence as much as the next English teacher. Here's one of my all time favourites, courtesy of Sylvia Plath from The Bell Jar: The lawn was white with doctors. The sparse elegance of such an utterance fills me with delight and satisfaction; it communicates so much, so simply. [...]

A model lesson? Part 1: routines vs gimmicks

2014-08-19T15:24:12+01:00September 8th, 2013|leadership, learning, planning, training|

It's been a busy week this week. What with starting at a new school, getting up before 5 to drive two hours on Monday morning, living an Alan Partridge-esque existence in a particularly horrific Travelodge, and risking whatever credibility I might have by teaching a 'model' lesson in front of colleagues I'd barely met to kids I'd never met. That this was in any way successful is largely down to the efforts of co-conspirator, Fiona Aris: due to a series of unlikely but banal events, we were unable to meet up (or even meet) beforehand and she (Kindly? Foolishly?) agreed to plan said [...]

Teaching sequence for developing independence Stage 4: Practise

2013-07-19T14:12:46+01:00July 4th, 2013|Featured, learning, Teaching sequence|

What does practice make? Well, it turns out that my mum was wrong. Doug Lemov points out in Practice Perfect that practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent. What we practise we get good at. And sometimes we get very good at doing things badly. Take writing for instance. When I scribble notes I always use capital letters correctly. This isn't a boast: I just do. It would never occur to me not to, I don't even think about it. When I read students' work they invariably omit capital letters for proper nouns. Now, I rarely meet a secondary student who [...]

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