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Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College (K-12)

Doug Lemov, Norman Atkins (Foreword by)
ISBN: 978-0-470-55047-2
352 pages
April 2010, Jossey-Bass
Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College (K-12) (0470550473) cover image



Teach Like a Champion
offers effective teaching techniques to help teachers, especially those in their first few years, become champions in the classroom. These powerful techniques are concrete, specific, and are easy to put into action the very next day. Training activities at the end of each chapter help the reader further their understanding through reflection and application of the ideas to their own practice.

Among the techniques:

  • Technique #1: No Opt Out. How to move students from the blank stare or stubborn shrug to giving the right answer every time.
  • Technique #35: Do It Again. When students fail to successfully complete a basic task—from entering the classroom quietly to passing papers around—doing it again, doing it right, and doing it perfectly, results in the best consequences.
  • Technique #38: No Warnings. If you're angry with your students, it usually means you should be angry with yourself. This technique shows how to effectively address misbehaviors in your classroom.

The print version includes a DVD of 25 video clips of teachers demonstrating the techniques in the classroom. E-book customers: please note that details on how to access the content from the DVD may be found in the e-book Table of Contents. Please see the section: "How to Access DVD Contents" 

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Table of Contents

DVD Contents ix

Foreword xi

Acknowledgments xv

The Author xix

Introduction: The Art of Teaching and Its Tools 1



1 Setting High Academic Expectations 27
Technique 1: No Opt Out 28

Technique 2: Right Is Right 35

Technique 3: Stretch It 41

Technique 4: Format Matters 47

Technique 5: Without Apology 51

Reflection and Practice 55

2 Planning that Ensures Academic Achievement 57

Technique 6: Begin with the End 57

Technique 7: 4 Ms 60

Technique 8: Post It 63

Technique 9: Shortest Path 64

Technique 10: Double Plan 65

Technique 11: Draw the Map 67

Reflection and Practice 69

3 Structuring and Delivering Your Lessons 71

Technique 12: The Hook 75

Technique 13: Name the Steps 77

Technique 14: Board = Paper 82

Technique 15: Circulate 84

Technique 16: Break It Down 88

Technique 17: Ratio 92

Technique 18: Check for Understanding 97

Technique 19: At Bats 104

Technique 20: Exit Ticket 106

Technique 21: Take a Stand 106

Reflection and Practice 108

4 Engaging Students in Your Lessons 111

Technique 22: Cold Call 111

Technique 23: Call and Response 125

Technique 24: Pepper 131

Technique 25: Wait Time 134

Technique 26: Everybody Writes 137

Technique 27: Vegas 141

Reflection and Practice 144

5 Creating a Strong Classroom Culture 145

Technique 28: Entry Routine 151

Technique 29: Do Now 152

Technique 30: Tight Transitions 154

Technique 31: Binder Control 157

Technique 32: SLANT 158

Technique 33: On Your Mark 159

Technique 34: Seat Signals 161

Technique 35: Props 163

Reflection and Practice 165

6 Setting and Maintaining High Behavioral Expectations 167

Technique 36: 100 Percent 167

Technique 37: What to Do 177

Technique 38: Strong Voice 182

Technique 39: Do It Again 191

Technique 40: Sweat the Details 195

Technique 41: Threshold 197

Technique 42: No Warnings 199

Reflection and Practice 201

7 Building Character and Trust 203

Technique 43: Positive Framing 204

Technique 44: Precise Praise 210

Technique 45: Warm/Strict 213

Technique 46: The J-Factor 214

Technique 47: Emotional Constancy 219

Technique 48: Explain Everything 220

Technique 49: Normalize Error 221

Reflection and Practice 223

8 Improving Your Pacing: Additional Techniques for Creating a Positive Rhythm in the Classroom 225

Change the Pace 226

Brighten Lines 228

All Hands 229

Every Minute Matters 230

Look Forward 231

Work the Clock 232

Reflection and Practice 233

9 Challenging Students to Think Critically: Additional  Techniques for Questioning and Responding to Students 235

One at a Time 237

Simple to Complex 239

Verbatim (No Bait and Switch) 240

Clear and Concise 240

Stock Questions 241

Hit Rate 243

Reflection and Practice 245



10 How All Teachers Can (and Must) Be Reading Teachers 249

11 The Fundamentals: Teaching Decoding, Vocabulary Development, and Fluency 263

12 Comprehension: Teaching Students to Understand What They Read 283

Conclusion: The End Is the Beginning 309

Appendix: Behind-the-Scenes Interviews 311

Index 325

How to Use the DVD 331

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Author Information

Doug Lemov is a managing director of Uncommon Schools and oversees its True North network. He is the former president of School Performance and former vice president for accountability at the State University of New York Charter Schools Institute. He also trains school leaders and teachers and has taught English and history at the university, high school, and middle school levels. Visit Doug Lemov at www.douglemov.com.
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"If school districts are going to demand so much of teachers, then the least superintendents and schools of education can provide is basic tools. There is more power in effective training than there could ever be in threats." (Boston Globe, March 23, 2010)

Praise for Teach Like a Champion

"Doug Lemov knows that teachers can create powerful learning environments that will help all students make dramatic progress. With Teach Like A Champion, teachers across the country will be better prepared to wake up on Monday morning and help their students climb the mountain to college. This book provides more evidence that highly effective teaching is learnable—that many more teachers can draw from the tactics of their most successful colleagues in order to realize educational equity."
WENDY KOPP, chief executive officer and founder of Teach For America

"Every teacher should own at least two copies of Doug Lemov's Teach Like a Champion. One for home and one for school, so that they are never far from the roadmap to excellence that lies within. Lemov pulls back the curtain to reveal that the apparent wizardry of the most successful teachers is really a collection of clearly explainable and learnable techniques. This will certainly be one of the most influential and helpful books that any teacher ever owns."
DAVID LEVIN, co-founder of KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program)

"Doug Lemov's Teach Like a Champion is a breakthrough book that is both visionary and comprehensive. If you are a teacher who wants to increase the academic success of your students, you should read this book. If you are an administrator with the same goal, you must get this book into the hands of your teachers!"
LEE CANTER, author of Assertive Discipline

"Doug Lemov has captured in one place the specific, practical techniques used by the best teachers in some of our country's best urban schools. Any teacher, principal, or policymaker who is interested in what it takes on a classroom level to close the achievement gap should read this book."
DACIA TOLL, co-chief executive officer of Achievement First

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Related Websites / Extra

TeachLikeAChampion.com: Visit Doug Lemov's new blog to learn more about his ongoing work, as well as sign up for a free e-newsletter!
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Press Release

February 09, 2016
Teach Like A Champion: 49 Techniques That Put Students On The Path To College

Imagine a classroom where the same students who, moments before, were unruly and undisciplined suddenly take their seats, pull out their notebooks and as if by magic, think and work like scholars. In a time of massive education budget cuts and layoffs, this scenario seems unlikely. Yet in classrooms around the U.S. there stands one teacher– an artisan whose techniques and execution differentiates her from her peers. What is this teacher’s secret? Does she possess an innate talent for the trade, or can her craft be learned?

Featured as the cover and full length feature story in the March 7th issue of the New York Times Magazine, Teach Like A Champion: 49 Techniques That Put Students On The Path To College (Jossey-Bass; 978-0-470-55047-2; April 2010; $27.95) by Doug Lemov offers effective teaching techniques to help any teacher become a champion in the classroom. The New York Times article, “Building a Better Teacher” solicited over 600 comments online shortly after it ran, prompting an interview with Anderson Cooper “AC360” and NPR’s “Talk of the Nation."

For over ten years, teacher, trainer and administrator Doug Lemov has observed hundreds of classrooms, analyzing outstanding teachers who have transformed at risk students into achievers. What he found was that there is a tool box for success, and they are techniques that can be learned and employed by any teacher. As a result of Lemov’s Techniques, West Denver Prep students (93% who are qualified as low income) demonstrated the highest academic growth at any middle school in Denver for the third consecutive year in 2009, with median growth percentiles of 90% in Math, 85% in Writing, and 66% in Reading. Below are some examples of Lemov’s “champion” techniques:

Technique #5: Without Apology. If teachers aren’t on guard, they can unwittingly apologize for teaching worthy content. Kids respond to challenges, so instead of apologizing, say: “lots of people don’t understand this until they get to college, but you’ll know it now. Cool.”

Technique #22: Cold Call. In order to make engaged participation the expectation, call on students regardless of whether they have raised their hands. Cold calling is an engagement strategy, not a discipline strategy.

Technique #45: Warm/Strict. Teachers must be both: caring, funny, warm, concerned, and nurturing – and strict, by the book, relentless, and sometimes inflexible. Teachers send the message to students that having high expectations is part of caring for and respecting someone.

Along with these 49 techniques, Teach Like A Champion also includes a DVD of 25 video clips of teachers demonstrating the techniques in the classroom. You can also the view video clips of some of the techniques on NYTimes.com.

“A few teachers may be born with an intuitive gift for teaching, but when I watch a great teacher I see mostly hard work and attention to detail,” summarizes author Doug Lemov. Teach Like A Champion is essential reading for teachers who intend to make every moment count in their classrooms, it is a set of tools they can use to become successful in the world’s greatest profession.

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