Reflection & Practice

Reflection and Practice: Chapter 5 

The Reflection and Practice theme for Chapter 5/Lesson Structure is an overview of ‘I/We/You‘, which was a prologue to the chapter.    A term coined by Doug McCurry, founder of Achievement First, essentially refers to direct instruction, guided practice and independent practice.  Here’s an overview chart of I/We/You from Teach Like a Champion 2.0, (p.158)¹.   The Reflection and Practice task was a very fun assignment!


“I”:  Refers to direct instruction from the teacher to the student.  The ‘Sage on the Stage’ should visibly model or show how to do something as well as provide and clear explanation to the group.

“We”:  The goal is to move more of the cognitive work out to the students.  Asking students to fill in the blanks, unbundle the steps, ask students to explain to the group what they are learning.  A combination of direct instruction and student interaction.

“You”:  Requiring students to demonstrate independent understanding of the material presented.  They should be given multiple variations and formats to practice individually.  Independent tasks should become increasingly more complex.

The assignment:  Choose one of the following deliberately informal topics  and sketch out a lesson plan that follows the ‘I/We/You’ structure.  Here are the topics:

  • Students will be able to shoot an accurate foul shot.
  • Students will be able to write the name of their school in cursive.
  • Students will be able to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
  • Students will be able to explain and demonstrate the correct procedure for doing laundry in the household.

And the winner is:  Write the name of your school in cursive

imagesDo Now Upon entering the classroom, students will see a Board=Paper /Do Now activity.  On a piece of paper they are instructed to copy what is on the board and “Make yours look like mine”.  A brief statement will be posted on the board, in cursive:  Hello, my name is John.  I am very happy to be at Jackson Middle School today.

3-5min Hook:

  • Show a brief video 4min video on the history of cursive.
  • Inform students that there will be a design competition for a sign bearing the name of the school at the end of the unit. (Final product)

“I” steps: 

  • Explain the basic importance of penmanship, signature/signing official documents/the benefits and brain science behind cursive writing with 2:30video/
  • Model the ‘Do Now’ message again on the board
  • Model how to use a blank sheet for handwriting practice, to stay between or go beyond the horizontal lines and the significance of the dotted center line.
  • Make It Sticky here would be dramatizing “breaking the rules”, how cursive writing is creative, the significance of “flourishes” (show John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence), and establishing your own personality in cursive handwriting, writing letters or sending cards!
  • Show slide show on cursive writing alphabets.

  images.jpg“We” steps:

  • Using cursive alphabet blank work sheets and Board=Paper, ask students to simulate the letters on their papers as you execute them on the overhead camera. Upper case and Lower case.
  • Ask students to point out which letters are particularly challenging, which letters are most recognizable or easier to write.
  • Using cursive worksheets, as above, Board=Paper have students practice forming short words in cursive.
  • Provide many At Bats for students; Cold Call several students to select words of their own to challenge the class to write vis a vis the white board or projector camera image.

“You” step:

  • Without guided imagery, ask students to transcribe a short text, from plain writing into cursive.
  • Ask students to read a piece of text that is written in cursive and summarize the content in their own words, (verbal or written activity).
  • Ask students to create a rough draft in cursive for a competition:  ‘Design a Cursive Sign with your school’s name’

imagesExit Ticket:  Students are asked to sign their full name in cursive on a sticky note and affix it on the board before leaving the classroom.  This allows the the teacher a chance to gather objective data, determine which students require extra instruction, and which letters prove to be problematic for the class as a whole.



   index Reflection and Practice: Chapter 3 Although their is a practical guide available for Teach Like a Champion 2.0, the text itself is terribly comprehensive; including Reflection and Practice questions at the end of each chapter.  In this post, I’ve responded to those items for ‘Setting High Academic Expectations’.  This might be a post you’d “speed read”!   (All questions are from p.125-6)¹.

  1.  Chapter 3 presented five techniques for raising academic expectations in your classroom:  No Opt Out, Right Is Right, Stretch It, Format Matters, and Without Apology.  Which of these will be the most intuitive for you to implement in your classroom?  Which will be the toughest, and what will make it difficult?   Format Matters will most likely be the most intuitive technique to implement for me , based solely on content area.  The primary goal in the World Language classroom requires that students strive to use proper grammatical structures and are responding in complete sentences.  I’m constantly expecting students to repeat or rephrase what it is they’ve said in the target language.  Right is Right would be the most challenging technique for me to implement as I am aware that I try too hard not to discourage students.  “No, that’s not entirely correct” seems like discouragement.  And the ever present threat of time constraints within a given class period always prompts me to finish students responses for them.   I’d like to “lose” this desire to “enable” students.

2.  One of the keys to responding effectively to “almost right” answers-reinforcing effort but holding out for top-quality answers-is having a list of phrases you thing of in advance.  Try to write four or five of your own.    “That’s a great start,”, “Let’s be more specific”, “Begin with what you just said to move toward the answer”, “If you were to adjust your response, what would it sound like”, “Warmer, keep going”.

3.  Here’s a list of questions you might hear asked in a classroom and the objective for the lesson in which they were asked.  (I chose: Who can use the word achieve in a sentence?  Objective: Students will be able to increase their vocabulary through drills that explore the use of synonyms, antonyms, and different parts of speech).  Try to think of Stretch It questions you might ask for the one that’s closest to what you teach.  (This is a great activity to do with other teachers).  “Great, let’s see how flexible you are with this verb, in Spanish tell me what you achieved yesterday.  Step it up, and tell me what you are going to achieve tomorrow.  Keep going, explain what we are achieving right now.  Final bonus question:  what verb, in Spanish, is the opposite of to achieve.”

4.  Try to imagine the most “boring” content (to you) that you could teach.  Now script the first five minutes of your class in which you find a way to make it exciting and engaging to students.  Not “boring” to me, but quintessentially boring to students in the foreign language classroom is the rote necessity of conjugating verbs.  “Here’s our challenge, as native speakers of English:  How to Not Sound Like a Cave Man in Spanish.  Not unlike Time Travelers, we often get stuck in one tense, one locked point in time, right?  And it’s usually the comfortable Present Tense.  “I eat lunch yesterday”.  What we really want to be able to do is move back and forth in time.  You’d rather sound like a sophisticated Time Traveler:  “I will eat lunch at 4 o’clock” or “They ate lunch yesterday at the Italian restaurant.”  We have to begin to master the mechanisms of when to switch “gears” or tenses and know how to manipulate the time machine buttons that start up correct conjugations”.

Reflection and Practice questions for Chapter 1, Gathering Data for Student Mastery

tumblr_ldsg63s8SF1qemtcvPrior to moving on to Chapter 2, I completed the Reflection and Practice questions at the conclusion of Chapter 1.  Initially, the questions seemed redundant, simplistic.  The first item was a practice step; attempt to quickly deliver targeted questions that employed Reject Self-Report.  I made deliberate attempts as a substitute throughout the week of 2/8-2/11/2016 to not ask students, “Do you understand?”, instead, asking specific individuals, “Explain to me what we are going to do.” or  “In your own words, what are the instructions for our next task.”.  Very effective.

The second practice question asks the reader to describe how he or she would Standardize the Format with classroom materials.  I found this task to be extremely practical.  My response:  Apart from reinventing the wheel, I do like the concept; perhaps the insertion of a blank box with 3 available blank spaces in a set corner, upper right hand for quick verification could be easily copy/pasted onto worksheets/assignments handed out to students.

The third task asks the teacher to select a question from an upcoming lesson.  Utilizing that question:

a.  Script a follow-up question for a correct response.
b.  Plan one anticipated wrong answer.
c. Script the first question you’d ask to follow an incorrect response.
d.  Plan your cue and student hand signals.

Being a World Language teacher by trade, for my “upcoming” lesson I selected the ever challenging:  What is the difference between the Preterite tense and the Imperfect tense, as they both communicate something that happened in the past.?   My responses as follows:

a. Please conjugate both tenses using the verb ‘comer’.
b. Students misuse of the verb to be, or ‘ser’ vs. ‘estar’.  As they would both communicate ‘was’ in English.
c. Assign two students, separate sentences in English that contain ‘was’, using the two different verbs in Spanish, (a translation in the preterite and imperfect tenses).
d. I would not use hand signals, but ask all students to conjugate in the perterite than the imperfect on mini dry erase boards, on the count of Uno, Dos, Tres.