“Hurdle Rate” and “Control the Game” from Lemov, D. (2010). Teach Like a Champion. Jossey-Bass. Chapter 10.

I’m reading an interesting chapter from Lemov (2010) about how you decide on what should do during classroom time.  It goes a little like this:

Although we also manage finite resources as teachers—in this case, time—we rarely think this way. We ask whether our actions will result in learning, but this is the wrong question. The right question is whether our actions yield a return that exceeds our hurdle rate—that is, yield more learning per minute invested than does the best reliable alternative use of class time. (p 254)

His question or thought experiment is highly interesting to me.  Are you providing more value to your students today then a solid 50-60-90 minutes of solid reading would for them in some quality book?

Furthermore, if you know you could always be doing meaningful reading—in any class, at any time—you can examine your other investments of time critically: Do they exceed the value of meaningful reading? … Surely not all of them, but probably some of them do not exceed your hurdle rate (that is, they are not reliably more productive than meaningful reading). It would be smarter to have them read meaningfully instead. (p 255)

This all reminds me of the Tuesdays that Franklin High School spends on SSR (Silent Sustained Reading) across the school.  Maybe they are on to something?

So in my math/science classes what should I be reading if I wanted to do meaningful reading in my classes?  Here are some ideas:

  • Math/Physics research papers.
  • Math/Physics magazine articles.
  • Popular books on science/math.
  • Novels about mathematical/scientific investigations or activities.
  • Biographies/Autobiographies of mathematicians/physicists.
  • Popularizations of topics in math/science.

I get a little excited thinking about these things.  And once I have a classroom full of readers and I have a great text, this is how Lemov (2010) suggests we do it in his strategy “Control the Game”:

  1. Don’t let students know how long they will be reading (aloud).
  2. Don’t let them know who will be reading next.
  3. A brief reading keeps energy up better than a longer one.
  4. Minimize the fuss created around the switch of a reader.
  5. Teacher can read a little to keep up the mix.
  6. “Oral Cloze”, you might want to leave out words to see who is paying attention.
  7. Feel free to ask all students to pause and discuss–all while holding their place—so that they can pick up and keep reading more easily

And finally here a video from the DVD in the book showing this technique in practice.

Lemov Champion Clip22 from John Weisenfeld on Vimeo.

 

References

Lemov, D.  (2010). Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College.  Jossey-Bass. Kindle Edition. p 254. 

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