Teach Smart Using 11 Learner Centered Strategies

Teach Smart: 11 Learner Centered Strategies That Ensure Student Success
by PJ Caposey and Todd Whitaker
SDE/Crystal Springs Books (2013) – Learn more

sroschReviewed by Stephanie Rosch

As an instructional coach in a district where learner centered is the motto, I can say with confidence that this book lays out an easy to use guide for how to help each teacher get better at the craft. It also includes real life examples of classrooms, practical strategies for any grade level, and black line masters for some of the strategies.

Teach Smart is a very quick read and left me with no questions about how to implement any of the eleven steps in the process of perfecting the learner centered classroom. These are the steps:

teach-smart-cvr-clip1. Begin on day one describes the importance of consistency and how to start up a classroom.

2.  Communicate to your audience means selling the product to our students every day and using assessment to see if they “bought it/got it.”

3.  Provide a roadmap describing what, why and how students are learning in order to increase rigor and relevance.

4. Give the work back, if you assign it,  give it back quickly.

5. Differentiate daily (and don’t forget to enrich and let those kids increase higher level thinking skills).

6. Give students the right to choose in assignments and in how they show their learning. Some things can be negotiable, but the more you use choice the better your classroom will be.

7.  Assign the kind of homework that students complete because they can and want to.

8. Devise questions for kids that increase thinking skills and group work success.  (Great chapter for those looking to increase cooperative learning in class.)

9. Practice intentional engagement through letting students choose and express themselves.

10. In designing classroom management, creating a vision is just as important as getting to know your students.

11. Seek feedback from anyone who is willing to give it. (Always a challenge; some teachers are scared to have us in their classroom).

One of my favorite ideas in this book was using groups to design assessment questions, and then have them answer them the next day, thereby creating a way for students to show what they know.  The data driven dialogue spin off was also awesome. I loved the honesty and creativity in getting students sharing their results.

Stephanie Rosch has been teaching for 11 years at an urban middle school. When she isn’t playing with her family and enjoying reading with her kids, she is running through the halls of school trying to help one more student or one more teacher achieve their dreams. Dr. Rosch has been an instructional coach for four years and presents and participates in a variety of places around the state.

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