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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 01/31/2011

The 'thinking gap' (and why teachers shouldn't keep kids busy every second)

By Valerie Strauss

My guest is Diana Senechal, who taught for four years in the New York City public schools and is writing a book about the loss of solitude in schools and culture. Her education writing has appeared in numerous places, including Education Week, the Core Knowledge Blog, GothamSchools, and American Educator.

By Diana Senechal
Doug Lemov’s "Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College" (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010) has been widely praised for its specific, no-nonsense breakdown of teaching techniques. Yet the book suffers from its unquestioning acceptance of the “thinking gap”—its unspoken assumption that children in urban schools cannot and should not sit still and think.

Lemov seems to believe that students must be kept busy at every moment and must know the exact purpose of each activity. This premise limits the kinds of teaching that can take place and the topics that can be taught. If students cannot tolerate any stillness or doubt, if they are unable to occupy themselves with their own thoughts, then they will not be able to pursue advanced or even intermediate topics in the humanities and sciences.

Lemov’s suggested techniques cluster around the assumption that children must be kept busy and purposeful.

For instance, Lemov heartily recommends the well-known “Do Now” technique (No. 29 in the book): a warm-up activity that students perform immediately upon taking their seats. The “Do Now” is supposed to lead into the lesson; it means “that students are hard at work even before you have fully entered the room.” Many schools require teachers to begin lessons with a “Do Now” as a matter of course. In some cases it makes sense; a well-crafted question can help students start thinking about the lesson.

But what would be wrong with expecting students, upon entering the room, to take their seats, look over their reading or homework, and think? Why could they not use those few minutes to gather their ideas, refresh their memory, write down a few questions or observations, or even let their thoughts roam freely?

If students expect to be told what to do at each moment, they will not learn how to handle moments when they don’t know exactly what to do. Moreover, those who do know how to sit and think will not have the opportunity to do so. A student may be penalized for looking off into the distance—perhaps pondering a question related to the reading. Those who are not visibly busy will be treated as though they were doing something wrong.

Another of Lemov’s favorite emphases is staying “on task.” He insists that a lesson should have a clearly defined goal and that neither teachers nor students should stray from it.

In his discussion of the “Ratio” technique, he mentions a teacher who asks the students to choose one of “several subtly different character traits” to describe a character from a story. When a student offers an adjective that isn’t among of the options, the teacher reminds the student “that their goal was to decide from among the similar traits they’d identified at the outset, thus keeping the discussion focused and productive.”

But a good literature discussion often goes to unexpected places. The point is to come as close to the truth as possible—and to consider tone, rhythm, images, and many other things all along the way. It makes sense, perhaps, for the teacher to postpone consideration of the student’s proposed adjective, but not to disregard it. If a teacher offers a choice of three adjectives, she should do so only in passing, and then move on to a consideration of other words and possibilities. Otherwise she is subordinating the literature lesson to a vocabulary lesson or to a multiple-choice question.

Ultimately, the question should be: Who is this character? What details in the story give us hints? What role does this character play in the larger picture? There is no single path to the answer; sometimes the clues will lie in an unexpected place, and sometimes the most fitting adjectives will be different from what anyone initially considered. A teacher should be willing to guide students through this uncertainty, and students should learn to tolerate it.

It is time to consider the thinking gap in education: the difference between those who are able to sit still with thoughts, even for a minute, and those who are not.

Lemov’s techniques, if taken as orthodoxy, only cover up a deeper problem. If students expect, at every moment, to know what they are supposed to do and why, they will have limited options in high school and college. Or, worse, high school and college courses will cater to this need, giving students tasks at every moment and specifying the exact objective. This is detrimental to advanced study. Most subjects require a great deal of struggle, listening, and patience.

Yes, lessons need structure and purpose, but they also need tolerance for the unknown. One of the greatest aspects of learning is that we often don’t know where we are going, yet we sense some motion, out of which comes, slowly or suddenly, a solution, an idea, a beautiful and thoughtful performance.

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By Valerie Strauss  | January 31, 2011; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Learning, Teachers  
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Comments

If children are not taught yet led down only the paths adults THINK they should be led we will never develop original thoughts nor thoughts about being original.

Posted by: jbeeler | January 31, 2011 7:42 AM | Report abuse

It would be nice for all the "educrats" to read this opinion, though I've no doubt it would be a waste of time. Ex-teachers turned "researcher" have their little idealistic notion of what a classroom should be at every minute of the day. They forget the 2 years they spent teaching in front of kids, developing their own curriculum and lessons. Tbe beauty of teaching is in those moments that wander off from the charted path, when the student asks something that you had neither intended nor planned for. That's where real learning takes place. The educrats would have use reading from a script if they could, ala "1984". There are so many people who so desperately want to be "involved" in education, but who so desperately do not want to be in that classroom with students, and who have all the answers.

Posted by: peonteacher | January 31, 2011 9:04 AM | Report abuse

It does make sense that they should have time to think. It is a little age dependent also, though. Middle schoolers love to be social.

Posted by: ubblybubbly | January 31, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

hahaha to the very IDEA that teachers should keep kids working every minute of the class period. Never mind all these lofty alternative goals.

I've done warmups; I've skipped warmups. Makes little difference.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | January 31, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Well, golly. If kids really did sit down, get organized and think quietly at the beginning of class, I'd say Senechal had a great idea. But in my experience as a sub, I've never actually seen a student do that. Instead, kids throw a football or wrestle or ask questions or gab--anything but think quietly. If you don't get them on track pronto, you lose the class entirely. Hence many teachers' reliance on "Do Now" activities, I suspect; they create--demand--immediate focus. I agree that in-class "think time" can be important; I just don't see it as a good choice for the beginning of class. And one key thing is missing from this essay: Did Senechal actually incorporate think time into her own classes? Please let us know and, if so, how she did it and how successful it was. That would be most instructive.

Posted by: barbarachina | January 31, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Even if Diana used think time, what were the demographics of her classroom?

It's hard to believe that the real problem with our urban classrooms today is too much time on task, too much time actually learning stuff. Diana is just nitpicking.

Posted by: educationobserver | January 31, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

The problem is not that students spend "too much time on task actually learning something." Rather, it is that many do not know how to sit still with thoughts (a big part of learning something). Keeping them busy at every moment is no solution; it just perpetuates the problem.

I have had, in the same classrooms, students who could sit still with thoughts and students who could not. The difference was vast. Yes, I tried to make room for thinking (as a matter of course, as you'd find in a literature seminar). With some students and classes it worked beautifully; with others it was a struggle.

I know of teachers who have gone farther--who have had students spend five minutes doing absolutely nothing, or who have given them an assignment of turning off all the gadgets, going away from the computer, and just being by themselves for a few hours. Students reported that it was very difficult but rewarding.

I am not recommending in the least that we turn lessons into meditation sessions. But students should learn how to be active in the mind, without constant activity or outside stimulus, and how to handle things they don't immediately understand.

Posted by: DianaSenechal | January 31, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Diana,
You are correct, I believe. But it is difficult and if you don't have total control of student behavior then it is very difficult to do this. Some kids "think" as they doodle. They don't think just because there is nothing to do.

Posted by: ubblybubbly | January 31, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Senechal and Lemov have a much, much deeper disagreement on their hands that mere their divergent ideas about how much structure children need in their classroom time.

The disagreement is on the very nature of learning.

My biggest criticism of Lemov isn't his techniques, it is the underlying assumption that "learning" = "high scores on standardized tests". His techniques are very effective at producing the kind of classroom environment and student behavior that leads to high scores on standardized tests.

The only reason I disagree with Lemov, and find myself on the side of the debate with Senechal, is that I do not think high test scores = good learning. In fact, I think the obsession with test scores is leading public education AWAY from good learning.

I think learning is thoughtful. I think learning is pondering. I think learning is wondering. I think learning is divergent thinking and the ability to disagree vigorously and politely with one's peers.

I think memorizing the right facts for a tests, or the right procedure of computation are basic skills that absolutely should be taught in schools - but were never meant to be the end-all and be-all of education.

Keep the tests - they're useful in seeing if kids are getting the basic skills.

Loose the high-stakes - they are warping education into becoming ONLY about basic skills.

Posted by: orphal | January 31, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Shoot! I hate it when I make a type-o

"Loose the high-stakes" should read "Lose the high-stakes"

Thank you!

Posted by: orphal | January 31, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

The other problem with asking students to sit quietly and think is that few of them today know what "quiet" is. They are born in hospitals with recorded music piped in to the nursery. They go home in a car with a radio. They go on family trips with their videos and music players.

Today, give a class a worksheet or a reading assignment, and the first question is, "Can we turn on our players?" Ask one student a question and three others begin talking. An announcement comes over the PA and no one stops talking to hear it. (Granted, they have learned from experience that it probably isn't important, but that's a different problem.) Ask them to speak quietly to their partners during a group project and you can hear them clear down the hall. They literally don't know what you mean by speaking quietly. They have been surrounded by noise and motion all their lives and have no idea how to sit still, listen, or think.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | January 31, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

"...One of the greatest aspects of learning is that we often don’t know where we are going, yet we sense some motion, out of which comes, slowly or suddenly, a solution, an idea, a beautiful and thoughtful performance."
_____________

While I completely sympathize with the harried teacher's job to get kids 'on-task' to focus, Diana's theme on thinking time is truly important.

For instance, in the areas that necessitate creativity, breakthroughs or insights don't happen without the periods of solitude, dreamtime, mulling things over, even the doodling mentioned above. Like a great stew, things need to be on the back burner for awhile for everything to be absorbed.

@sideswiththekids: think your comments are completely in sync with the article; the last generation or so has been raised in the midst of a continuous background of often unfiltered sound, much of it noise. In addition to the continuous sound stealing moments of real solitude, it is damaging our hearing - western, industrialized nations have the highest rates of hearing loss due to the continuous noise in our environments and it's not only from exposure to rock concerts. Motors - from vacuum cleaners to hair dryers to cars are some of the most insidious culprits.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | January 31, 2011 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Peon, I love the indignation! Keep it up!

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | January 31, 2011 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Peon, I love the indignation! Keep it up!

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | January 31, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

The ability to think by students was destroyed the day fill-in-the-bubbles standardized testing became our measurement for learning.

It is also ironic that while we want to enncourage children to think, more and more of a teacher's thinking time is being sucked up with monotonous meetings, repetitive training's and redundant paperwork.

Posted by: ilcn | January 31, 2011 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Avoiding the demographics question, Diana? What were the demographics of the students that you supposedly led in this technique of silent thought? Rich, poor, black, white, or what?

Lemov seems to be addressed to a different demographic than you. You seem to be thinking of overworked rich white kids whose education could be improved only by tinkering around in tiny ways -- more time for silent pondering of the mysteries of the universe, etc. Lemov is talking about urban poor kids who are 4 years behind in reading and math, and whose classrooms are often undisciplined and in disarray. It's not clear why you think you've stumbled on the one way to help these kids out, so much so that you niggle over 1 or 2 out of Lemov's 49 techniques.

Posted by: educationobserver | February 1, 2011 12:05 AM | Report abuse

I would have hated being in one of those every-second-full-of-busywork classes. It would have interfered with my reading even more than the school I went to.

Posted by: scientist1 | February 1, 2011 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Teaching for 4 years... what a joke! Couldn't even make it 5 years before becoming an expert. Honestly, pathetic.

Posted by: 12345leavemealone | February 1, 2011 5:35 AM | Report abuse

I like the idea that we're focused on the observable to the exclusion of everything else. This isn't just an education problem, although I think the emphasis on observable outcomes makes this more obvious in education. In my law practice, our time sheets had no category for "thinking". It was all doing stuff. Much of my most valuable work was sitting quietly with a yellow pad and thinking about thing.
Now I teach, and I build in discussion time focused on problems. If people want to use it for thinking alone, that's okay, although it wouldn't be a quiet environment. I'm pretty sure this wouldn't work in a 70-person class of fifth graders. Would it work with 30? Maybe.
I too am skeptical about teaching advice from someone with four years experience. You can have great creative ideas as a first-year teacher, but this is a really small set of experiences to be offering general advice to all teachers.

Posted by: gsergienko | February 1, 2011 6:04 AM | Report abuse

A little clarification:

My students were poor. They were English language learners (from many countries), black, and Hispanic.

Four years does not make one a veteran teacher. But I am not telling teachers what to do. I am making observations based on my own teaching, education, and research. I am pointing to a lack, not to the ultimate teaching practice.

In addition to the four years of public school teaching, I taught for two years in other contexts. I taught second- and third-year Russian as a Mellon Fellow for one year. I taught first-year Russian as a graduate student for one year. I taught for a summer each on the Crow Reservation in Montana and in Kyrgyzstan.

Growing up, I attended eight different schools, public and private, with widely differing approaches and philosophies: the Common School, Amherst, Mass. (private); Center School, South Hadley (public); Smith College Campus School, Northampton (private); Paterswolde-Noord Openbare School, Paterswolde, Drente, the Netherlands (public); South Hadley Junior High School (public); the Winsor School in Boston (private); Marshwood High School, South Berwick, Maine (public); School no. 75 in Moscow (public); and then the Winsor School again until graduation. I attended Yale as an undergraduate and graduate and earned a Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literatures.

Much does depend on the age of the student and other factors. My point is that if students cannot tolerate any stillness or uncertainty, they will have trouble with subjects that demand it. And I have enough experience to attest that certain subjects demand it.

Posted by: DianaSenechal | February 1, 2011 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Some kids need thinking gaps more than others. Some kids need more clearly defined expectations than others. And most kids, I think, need both, at different times. The real problem for education is that we try to do it on the cheap, with classes of 20 or 30 or 50 or 70. And no group of 20 or 30 kids is going to need exactly the same thing at the same time. We don't need to find a better theory-of-everything that every teacher uses in every class at every level; we need to find ways for teachers to be able to use different tools in different classrooms, so that students get what they need when they need it, rather than what and when someone thinks "most kids like you" need it.

Posted by: drrico | February 1, 2011 8:27 AM | Report abuse

I would much rather see a discussion about the validity of the point of view presented, and not an attack on the writer's experience, etc.

Thank you, Diana. I always enjoy your posts.

Posted by: secondgradeteacher | February 1, 2011 8:33 AM | Report abuse

ilcn is correct. I recently substituted for a teacher--two, in fact, one in the morning and one in the afternoon--who were grading the practice standardized tests. At noon, the principal came to speak to one of them while we were eating lunch. She referred to one reading exercise that asked the students to indicate two of the problems in the exercise and two possible solutions. She said the majority of the students had identified the problems but had offered their own solutions(short response questions) instead of simply listing the ones in the reading exercise. The principal sighed and said, "Once again we have to tell them to stop thinking if they want to get the right answer."

(My niece once chose the doctor instead of the clown as "the figure that makes you laugh" in one of her pre-school exercise books. Her mother, a teacher, had enough sense to ask her why. "Because," the four-year-old answered, "when you are sick the doctor makes you feel better and then you laugh and play again." A very verbal, serious child from a very verbal family, she didn't think clowns' slapstick was particularly funny.)

Posted by: sideswiththekids | February 1, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

At some point, you would think that someone who QUIT teaching after only four years would shut up and stop pretending that they know what they are talking about.

It takes years to become a good teacher.

This individual isn't a teacher but a writer who couldn't hack it as a teacher.

Posted by: lisa96 | February 1, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't agree more with Diana Senechal, that children need time to think, to be left alone in their own heads. I'm not sure, though, that a classroom is the place to try to do this. From my childhood, I remember classrooms as places full of other people vividly displaying all sorts of emotions and characteristics, that I couldn't help being attentive to, almost battered by -- even if we were not being badgered by a teacher with a lesson plan.

Luckily, I lived on a farm, and had a long walk by myself to get to the school, or to a bus-stop or train-station to get to a bigger school. This was a real luxury: time to day-dream and talk to myself without interference.

I think parents should take care to build some goofing-off time into every day. Goofing-off time at school isn't really relaxing.

I have done four years of teaching, three of them teaching English in a Polish high school for the Peace Corps. The trainers stressed the importance of having a lesson-plan for every separate lesson, with goals and activities, almost like a little play-script. Teaching as performance.

I found, however, that when I was teaching the same classes every day, I liked to have a speaking activity that every child had to have a go at on different days; and then I had to deal with bits of a subject left over from the day before or the week before, and then perhaps an explanation of a homework task, and answers to questions. In the middle of all this I'd explain, say, the Third Conditional. So the "shape" of the teaching was formed over the course of a half-semester or a semester, not in a single day. And the kids understood this.

Of course the trainer, sitting in on one lesson or one morning, then said that my lesson wasn't well-planned ... no stated goal, no strong theme, no wrap-up. Oh dear. But the kids learned a lot, and all of them could be good at something -- reading, writing, grammar, conversation ...

Posted by: penkuhn | February 1, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Learning through a general prescribed anticipatory set, direct instruction, guided instruction, and evaluative activity are a pretty prescribed but flexible way to teach any given new lesson.
However, all students and lessons need different attentions to the degree focused on each area. There should always be time for reflection and response from all. Without thinking our students are missing the point of any lesson objective. Its not just about the concept but how the concept is applicable to one's greater understanding.
Erika Burton, Ph.D.
Stepping Stones Together, Founder
Empowering parental involvement in early literacy
http://www.steppingstonestogether.com

Posted by: SteppingStonesTogether | February 1, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Well keeping them busy all day promotes ADD or ADHD behaviors; what to do when you have 5 minutes with nothing to do.
Although there are those who can think and those who cannot. Yes, it is a skill that can be learned to some degree, but not every child in every grade is going to be able to develop and/or exhibit abstract thought.

Posted by: hebe1 | February 1, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I think this conversation really has to do with down time, time not totally programmed, and what that may provide. I know it would benefit some students, probably most, but many would not know how to focus their thinking time on school-related topics. If the Do Now was "Think about the causes of the Civil War and be prepared to discuss your thoughts." or something like that, some might be able to focus on that topic, but some probably would be thinking about lunch or a video game or some cool prank to play in the next minute. Minds are notoriously tough to control. Heck, even when kids are in the midst of a programmed learning period, you can't necessarily control what's flowing on in their heads.

The notion of down time in urban schools (where I work) is an interesting one. Most of my students are really "behind" in their skill levels and need a lot of on-task work to become proficient. I'm reminded that it generally takes someone a long time, with lots of practice, to become skilled enough in their field to develop an interest to delve into related ideas and give it thought deeper than at a superficial level. Most of my students don't have much background knowledge in a lot of what they study to be able to do that, especially if what they're learning is skill-based, rather than content-based, which is what our test-driven educational culture seems to encourage, especially in urban schools. (I don't particularly agree with the testing focus, as I think it narrows education, but any assessment can provide some useful information.)

If Diana was suggesting that spending unprogrammed time in class might be useful I might agree, assuming students were "taught" to use it to focus on a school topic. Otherwise, I'm not convinced it would benefit anyone.

Posted by: nrcowan | February 1, 2011 5:04 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the standardized multiple choice exams is that we cannot afford NOT to use them.

Say a teacher has three classes a day, each with 20 students (I know, just a dream in most urban school systems). If he or she were to give a test which required analysis of the problem, consideration of possible answers, and documentation of these things, along with an answer, the teacher would have no time to read through sixty such exams, understand what the student was doing and saying, and then critiquing and grading all of them. Plus the time to return and discuss the test results.

Much easier to just put the standardized test sheets into the optical scanner and compute the scores in software.

Posted by: Ex-Fed | February 1, 2011 6:53 PM | Report abuse

So in this case, your "do now" activity is a silent meditation. How is being asked to silently write down some ideas in class not thinking? Why manufacture a false dichotomy with Lemov's approach? I am sure both of you would agree that having the kids come in and get involved in loud conversations and wild activity then results in spending some time bring them around to attention, with the result of 10% of class time wasted. You are ignoring the fact that controlling the classroom is difficult for many teachers, and must be one of the primary objectives for enabling any kind of thinking.

It is clear that your opposition here is to something else and that you are trying to manufacture a conflict with Lemov's approach that simply doesn't exist. This whole article is very suspect and smacks of Valerie Strauss' overly political approach to education, fraught with personal vendettas and a remarkable attachment to anything that could be perceived as pro-union or anti-charter.

Posted by: staticvars | February 1, 2011 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, Lemov and I would agree that there's a big problem with having kids enter the room and get into loud conversations and wild activity.

From there, the differences are profound. Lemov says: keep them busy and aware of exactly what they're doing and why, so that learning can take place. I say: if they are kept busy at every moment and certain of the purpose of each activity, they will not know how to tolerate the absence of such activity and certainty. And much of learning requires tolerance for the unknown--not at a postgraduate level only, but all along the way.

I recall an acquaintance who was about to go to Bulgaria for the first time. Someone asked him, over dinner, "What do you expect to find in Bulgaria?" He said, "I don't know. That's why I'm going."

Thanks to all who have offered thoughtful comments so far.

Posted by: DianaSenechal | February 1, 2011 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Lemov doesn't actually say "keep them busy". On p. 152 he writes, "You want students to know what to do and to know there is no ambiguity here."

What I was responding to was your suggestion earlier that, "But what would be wrong with expecting students, upon entering the room, to take their seats, look over their reading or homework, and think? Why could they not use those few minutes to gather their ideas, refresh their memory, write down a few questions or observations, or even let their thoughts roam freely?"
My point was, that these are all good ideas for a "do now". The piece that would be added to make your suggestions work in a tough classroom is a tool like a Do Now, is that if children are not told to do something of this sort, they often will not, and 10% of class time is gone. Once good habits have been established, we can advance to letting the students choose among them.

Your "Ratio" criticism is probably a misunderstanding of the text as well. Lemov writes, "their goal in the discussion was to determine which of several subtly different character traits provided the best description." The response of a totally different trait is not answering the question. For example, if asked the class, "Is Laura inconsiderate or indifferent in this situation?" and the student responded "she is smart," this would be taking the intended discussion off course, and not allow us to explore the different meanings of the two words. Surely you don't intend to suggest that there is something wrong with steering the discussion back to the question that was asked before moving on to discuss other points? It's wrong of you to suggest that the student is trying to replace a multiple choice question with a free response, they are simply offerring up an answer to the wrong question.

Lemov even agrees with you, in theory, on the next page, where he say, "theoretically, your ratio would be perfect if you just let the students run the whole discussion and got out of the way...but your results would not " I am sure you would recognize this as folly as well, or else why bother being there?

In any case, your objectives seem perfectly capable with Lemov's approach, and I would harbor a guess that the fact you chose such small things to pick on means that you agree with many of the other topics, but just don't see some of the applications of the techniques described in a way that gets to why you teach. I would submit that this is not the book to look to for the purpose of teaching, but rather how to solve particular problems in the classroom and how to have effective discussions.

Many teachers have started using these techniques and begun to increase the amount of productive time in the classroom. It's something we can't ignore.

Posted by: staticvars | February 1, 2011 11:23 PM | Report abuse

staticvars,

You make some good points. Some of Lemov's proposed techniques seem quite reasonable to me. Others I might qualify slightly. Still others seem problematic, or I'd qualify them in a way that changed them substantially.

In the case of the "Ratio" example, there's an important difference between telling a student, "That wasn't one of the options" and saying, "Hold onto that idea--let's address this question first." In the first case, the student's idea--which may be better than the options offered--has been shut out. In the second, the student is given an opportunity to bring it up later, after the initial question has been addressed.

Some students are several steps ahead. They have already answered the first question in their minds and are onto the next one. It makes all the difference when the teacher recognizes this.

As for the "Do Now," Lemov states on p. 153 that "The activity should require putting a pencil to paper, that is, there should be a written product from it." He doesn't consider the value of simply thinking about something; he doesn't suggest that students can or should learn to do this over time.

Nor are the examples particularly promising. One of them begins (p. 153):

1. Define scarce.
2. Explain how it means more than just having a small amount of something.

Scarce doesn't mean "having" anything. It describes something in short supply, not those who lack that thing.

I'm going a little off topic here, into the wording of the Do Now--but part of the problem lies in the insistence that there be one. If students had the basic practice of sitting down and waiting quietly for the lesson to start, then the Do Now activity could be reserved for those times when it really made sense. Or they could have a simple routine, such as writing down a question about the previous night's reading. From there, they could learn to hold the question in their minds.

Posted by: DianaSenechal | February 2, 2011 2:27 AM | Report abuse

I wrote about this in my blog this past summer. Go here:
http://billwilliamsblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/august-16th-time-and-space.html
We ALL need time to dream, relax, play. When we don't get it in school we are being robbed. Read Sam Chaltain's recent post about Lemov vis a vis Park Palmer.

Posted by: briobrio33 | February 2, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

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