No Opt Out final - Marshall Middle School

+ No Opt Out
Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov
+ Marshall, GATE, Professional-Development Goal 2012-13
Each Year, Marshall Teachers choose a professional-development goal which
will be the focus of yearlong professional development.
Our 2012-2013 staff development plan includes several steps:
Deliberation and choice of a differentiated strategy deemed to be the
most beneficial to our gifted student population. We chose Socratic
questioning strategies with an emphasis on the “No Op-out Strategy” as
researched and described by Doug Lemov in Teach Like a Champion.
Establish methods and practices for implementation.
Collaborate and assess implementation for best practices throughout
and at the completion of the school year.
We invite and strongly encourage parents to read and practice the strategies
presented in Teach Like a Champion, especially chapter one, which is the
focus of our staff development this academic year.
Setting High Academic Expectations
“One consistent finding of all academic research is that high expectations are the
most reliable driver of high student achievement, even in students who do not
have a history of successful achievement (27).”
Contrary to common myths about educational success, Lemov’s
research-data argues that teachers, not socio-economic factors,
make the difference.
Lemov’s findings can be boiled down to one statement: effective
educators set, maintain and achieve high expectations for all
their students.
“No Opt Out” is a system of techniques which Lemov terms,
“concrete actionable ways teachers… demonstrate high
expectations” in their daily classroom interactions.
The No Opt Out system consists of five indivisible techniques,
which are No Opt Out, Right is Right, Stretch It, Format Matters,
and Without Apology.
The Foundation of Learning
A teacher’s first priority is always to connect with each child
and foster a safe and nurturing environment for all students.
Marshall teachers believe that no learning can take place
unless students feel valued, safe and important. We know
that the road to all learning begins in a classroom community
where students know that they are more important than test
scores or academic concepts.
Therefore, the following instructional practices (No Opt Out,
Right is Right, and Format Matters) are always subordinate to
the affective relationship between the instructor and the
No Opt Out: the foundation of high expectations
KEY IDEA: A sequence that begins with a student unable to
answer a question should end with the student answering
that question a often as possible (28).
RATIONALE: When a student replies, “I don’t know”, sucks in
their breath and looks out the window, it is a critical moment.
Students all too commonly use this approach to push back on
teachers when they are unwilling to try, have a lack of
knowledge, or a combination of the two. And all too often, it
works. Reluctant students quickly come to realize that “I don’t
know” is the Rosetta stone of work avoidance. Fewer students
will persist in this avoidance behavior once the teacher has
made their expectations clear, demonstrated a nurturing
environment and the teacher has shown their persistence.
Four Basic Formats
Format One: You provide the
answer; the student repeats the
Format Three: You provide a
clue; the student uses the clue
to find the answer.
Format Two: Another student
provides the answer; the initial
student repeats the answer.
Another variation of this method
is to ask the whole class to
provide the answer, and then
the initial student repeats it.
Format Four: Another student
provides a clue; the initial
student uses it to find the
Right Is Right
KEY IDEA: Set and defend a high standard of correctness in
your classroom (35).
RATIONALE: Many teachers respond to almost correct
answers by rounding up, that is, responding “correct” and
filling in the missing information or correcting the minor
inaccuracies presented by the initial student. In this way, the
teacher has set a low standard for correctness and explicitly
told the class that they can be right, even when they are not.
Just as important, the teacher has crowded out students’ own
thinking, doing cognitive work that students could do
Four, Right-is-Right Strategies
Hold out for all the way: Great
teachers wait for and request the
complete answer. Great teachers
may say, “I like what you’ve said.
Can you get us the rest of the
way? We’re almost there. Can
you get us the rest of the way?”
Answer the question: Students
learn quickly that if you don’t
know the answer to the question
asked, you can usually get by by
answering a different question,
especially if it is heartfelt and
emotional. A great teacher will
redirect the initial student to the
question asked.
Right Answer, Right Time: Some
students want to show you and the class how
smart they are by getting ahead of your
questions. This is risky to accept answers out of
sequence since it deprives the rest of the class
the benefit of going through the sequence. It is
likely the majority of students need all the steps
in sequence. Great teachers accept the right
answer at the right time.
Use Technical Language: Good
teachers get students to give effective
responses using vernacular they are
comfortable with. Great teachers get
students to use precise technical terms in
the academic language of each discipline.
Stretch It
KEY IDEA: The sequence of learning does not end with a right answer;
reward the right answer with follow-up questions that extend knowledge
and test for reliability. This technique is especially important for
differentiating instruction (41).
RATIONALE: This technique yields two benefits. First, it allows the
teacher to make sure the students truly understand the content or skill and
that the response was not just a fluke. Second, when mastery has in fact
occurred, stretch it enables the teacher to give students exciting ways to
push ahead, apply their knowledge in new settings, think on their feet, and
tackle harder questions.
DIFFERENTATION: Stretch it is especially important for differentiating
instruction. By tailoring questions to individual students, great teachers
can meet students where they are and push them in a way that’s directly
responsive to what they’ve shown they can do already.
Ways to Stretch It
 Ask
how or Why.
 Ask
for another way to answer.
 Ask
for a better word.
 Ask
for evidence.
 Ask
students to intergrade a related skill.
 Ask
students to apply the same skill in a new
Format Matters
KEY IDEA: It’s not just what students say that matters but how they
communicate it. To succeed, students must take their knowledge
and express it in the academic language of opportunity. They
must also master patterns of discourse in order to succeed in an
academic setting (51).
RATIONALE: Students must take their knowledge and express it
in a variety of clear and effective formats to fit the demands of the
situation and of society. It is not just what students say, but how
they say it. The complete sentence, the essay and academic
conversation, including correct syntax and subject-verb
agreement, constitute the essentials of success.
Format Matters
Grammatical Format.
Complete Sentence Format.
Patterns of Discourse.
Audible Format.
Without Apologies
KEY IDEA: Great teachers make no apologies for teaching rigorous,
worthy content. Great teachers set high expectations and never
apologize for holding students accountable for accuracy, format, and
high academic vocabulary.
RATIONALLE: Teachers often apologize for content by saying things
like, “I know this stuff is boring, but let’s just get through it.” Or, “The
State requires you to learn this.” Sometimes teachers apologize for
students by saying, “These students, will never get this content. I need
to dilute it to the basics. “ Great teachers never apologize.
Alternatives to Apologies
Instead of apologizing, great teachers may use the
following alternatives.
Use positive feedback on the students’ ability to master the
Reassure students that you (the teacher) are with them all the
way in sticking to the topic until mastered.
Call out the future benefits of the knowledge they will attain.
Be upfront that the topic is challenging, and say that you (the
teacher) are positive they have the ability to master it.
Important Misconception
The correlation between success on even more straightforward assessments and ultimate
academic success should be instructive to us. I often meet educators who take it as an article of
faith and basic skills work in tension with higher-order thinking. That is, when you teach
students to, say, memorize their multiplication tables, you are not only failing to foster more
abstract and deeper knowledge but are interfering with it. This is illogical and, interestingly, one
of the tenants of American education not shared by most of the educational systems of Asia,
especially those that are the highest performing public school systems in the world. Those
nations are more likely to see the foundational skills like memorizing multiplication tables
enables higher-order thinking and deeper insight because they free students from having to use
up their cognitive processing capacity in more basic calculations. To have the insight to observe
that a more abstract principle is at work in a problem or that there is another way to solve it, you
cannot be concentrating on the computation. That part has to happen with automaticity so that as
much of your processing capacity as possible can remain free to reflect on what you’re doing.
The more proficient you are at the lower-order skills, the more proficient you can become at
higher order skills (18).
Such basic skills extend to multiplication facts, punctuation, parts of speech, sentence structure,
spelling, academic vocabulary, basic writing formats, rhetorical devices and beyond. Only when
students achieve automaticity, they are freed up to experience “higher order thinking.”
Next Steps: Planning for success.
Next year, Marshall GATE and Seminar teachers will focus our professional development goals on
planning for academic success. We will focus on the following six key concepts.
Beginning with the end in mind means that all learning objectives and
experiences should be designed to meet specific state standards.
4 MS: A great lesson objective should be manageable, measurable,
made first, and most important on the path to college.
Post it so it is visible for all to see, preferably in the same place every
day on the white board.
Opt for the shortest path to the objective.
Double plan, which means each learning objective should include what
the students will be doing during each phase of the lesson as well as the
Reflect and refine each lesson and unit by carefully analyzing what
worked and what you can do better next time. Evaluate weather you
need to reteach any concepts or skills.

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