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Teach Like A Champion by Doug Lemov

Published in 2010.  Part One focuses on technique and Part Two focuses on increasing reading.

Higher-Level Lesson Planning
As basketball coaching legend Bobby Knight once put it, "Most people have the will to win; few have the will to prepare to win." (pg. 12)

"In short, student success as measured by state assessments is predictive of their success not just in getting into college but of their succeeding there." (pg. 18)


Technique 1-  No Opt Out
Key Idea:  "A sequence that begins with a student unable to answer a question should end with the student answering that question as often as possible."  (pg. 28)

When you ask your students to provide a cue, be sure to provide guidance as to what kind of cue would be useful.  Three cues are particularly useful: (pg. 34)

-The place where the answer can be found:
  "Who can tell James where he could find the answer?"

-The step in the process that's required at the moment:
  "Who can tell James what the first thing he should do it?"

-Another name for the term that's a problem:
  "Who can tell James what denominator means?"

Technique 2- Right is Right
Key Idea:  Set and defend a high standard of correctness in your classroom. (pg. 35)

Technique 3-Stretch It
Key Idea: The sequence of learning does not end with a right answer; reward right answers with follow-up questions that extend knowledge and test for reliability.  This technique is especially important for differentiating instruction." (pg. 41)

"Asking frequent, targeted, rigorous questions of students as they demonstrate mastery is a powerful and much simpler tool for differentiating.  By tailoring questions to individual students,  you can meet students where they are and push them in a way that's directly responsive to what they've shown they can already do." (pg. 42)

Technique 4-Format Matter
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 language of opportunity." (pg. 51)

**"Accepting an inaudible answer suggests that what a student said didn't matter that much....saying "voice" to students whose voice is inaudible, for example, is preferable to a five-second disruption such as, 'Maria, we can't hear you in the back of the room.'" (pg. 50)

Unit Format
**In math and science class, replace 'naked numbers' (those without units) with ones that are 'dressed'.  If you ask for the area of a rectangle and a students tells you it's twelve, ask for the units, or merely note that her numbers 'need some dressing up' or 'look a bit underdressed." (pg. 51)


Technique 6- Begin with the End (pg. 63)

Technique 7- 4MS
Key Idea:  "As my colleague Todd McKee puts is, a great lesson objective (and therefore a great lesson) should be manageable, measurable, made first, and most important on the the path to college." (pg. 62)

Technique 8- Post It (pg. 64)

Technique 9- Shortest Path
"Again, the criterion is mastery of the objective and what gets you there best and fastest.  Group work, multisensory approaches, open inquiry, Socratic seminars, discussions, and lectures are neither good nor bad for a teacher to use except in how they relate to this goal.  Take the shortest path, and throw out all other criteria." (pg. 65)

Technique 10- Double Plan
*Key Idea: "It's as important to plan for what students will be doing during each phase of your lesson as it is to plan for what you'll be doing and saying." (pg. 66)

Technique 11-Draw the Map (pg. 67)


"I/We/You" (pg. 72)
Step    Who's Got the Football?
  1                  I do                                   I     Techniques- # 12-15
  2                  I do; you help.                  We Techniques- #16-18
  3                 You do; I help.                  You Techniques- #19-21
  4                 You do...
  5                 And do...and do....and do....

Technique 12- The Hook 
"The way in is with The Hook:  the short introductory moment that captures what's interesting and engaging about the material and puts it out front." (pg. 75)
-Story, Analogy, Prop, Media, Status, and/or Challenge

Technique 13-Name the Steps
  "We move piecemeal toward mastery and need to remind ourselves over and over what step comes next." (pg. 78).
1.  Identify the steps.        Keep the number of steps for a procedure to a limited number.
2.  Make them "sticky".   Once you've identified steps, name them (if possible)...also...[take it] a step further in stickiness by creating a story or a mnemonic device around the names for your steps.
3.  Build the steps.
4.  Use two stairways.  Once students know the steps, classrooms can have two parallel conversations going at once: how to get an answer to the current problem and how to answer any problem like this.  In other words, students can narrate the process or the problem.... (pg. 81)

Technique 14- BOARD = PAPER (pg. 82)
"As a matter of habit, expecting students to make an exact replica of their notes of what you write on the board is the right starting point...."

Technique 15- Circulate
-Break the plane.
-Full access required.
-Engage when you circulate.
-Move systematically
-Position for power.
   --Think of yourself as the sun: it turns on two axes at the same time, both revolving...and rotating.
   --Standing just over a student's shoulder as you peruse his work or standing at the back of the
      classroom as a class discusses a topic builds subtle but pervasive control of the classroom
      environment in order to focus it on learning.  (pg. 87)

Technique 16- Break It Down.
"You never know exactly how big the gap is between the student's level of knowledge necessary for mastery, but in most cases, you want to provide the smallest hint possible and still enable your student to get to the correct answer successfully." (pg. 89).
Breaking Down Difficult Information
1.  Provide an example
2.  Provide context
3.  Provide a rule
4.  Provide the missing (or first) step
5.  Rollback
6.  Eliminate false choices

Technique 17- Ratio
Key Idea:  "A successful lesson is rarely marked by a teacher's getting a good intellectual workout at the front of the room.  Push more and more of the cognitive work out to students as soon as they are ready, with the understanding that the cognitive work must be on-task, focused, and productive." (pg. 93)
1.  Unbundle
2.  Half-statement
3.  What's next?
4.  Feign ignorance
5.  Repeated examples
6.  Rephrase or add on
7.  Whys or hows
8.  Supporting evidence- There's far more cognitive work to be done in supporting an opinion than in
                                        holding one.
9.  Batch process- Playing 'Volleyball' as a discussion.
     --It's volleyball, not soccer
     --Batch processing can be nonproductive until students are mature and ready for it
     --Teach habits of discussion first
        -I agree with x because....I want to say more about what you said....That's true because....
         I understand what you're saying, but I have a different opinion [point or view]...What evidence
         can you give to support your opinion?

Technique 18-Check for Understanding

Gathering Data
-Sampling: Sampling means asking iterations of a single question or a set of similar questions to a smaller group of students and using the answers as representative of a large group's answers.

Types of Questions
-"Aficionados of data know self-report to be chronically unreliable." (pg. 101)
-One way to increase your capacity to gather useful data through observation is to standardize the format of what you're looking at.  If you're looking for information in the same place on each student's paper, for example, you'll find it much more quickly and will be able to retain your concentration on comparing student's answers across students, not finding them for single students.

Key Idea:  Effective Check for Understanding equals gathering data constantly and acting on them immediately.  The second part (acting on the data quickly) is both harder to do and at least as important.

Responding To Data:  Here is several other actions to take in response to data telling you that student
                                    mastery is incomplete:
  -Reteach using a different approach
  -Reteach by identifying and reteaching the problem step
  -Reteach by identifying and explaining difficult terms
  -Reteach at a slower pace
  -Reteach using a different order
  -Reteach identifying students of concern
  -Reteach using more repititions

Technique 19- At Bats
"Want to know what single factor best predicts the quality of the surgeon you select? It's not her reputation, not the place where she went to medical school, not even how smart she is.  The best predictor is how many surgeries of the type you're having that she's done.  It's muscle memory.  It's repetition."  (pg. 105)

-Go until they can do it on their own
-Use multiple variations and formats
-Grab opportunities for enrichment and differentiation

Technique 20- Exit Ticket

-They're quick: one to three questions
-They're designed to yield data
-They make great Do Nows.  After you've looked at the data, let your students do the same.  Start the next day's lesson by analyzing and re-teaching the Exit Ticket when students struggle.

Technique 21-Take A Stand
"When you ask students to Take A Stand, be careful not to let the exercise become cursory.  There are plenty of classrooms where teachers routinely ask students to agree or disagree or to do "thumbs up, thumbs down, thumbs sideways."  The key to maximum effect is not so much asking whether students agree but following up on their answers to inform your teaching and make students accountable for mentally engaged judgement rather than empty and obligatory participation.  (pg. 107)


Technique 22- Cold Call
Key Idea: In order to make engaged participation the expectation, the call on students regardless of whether they have raised their hands.

Technique 23- Call And Response
"The basic element of Call and Response is that you ask a question and the whole class calls out in unison." (pg. 125)
-Academic review and reinforcement
-High energy fun
-Behavioral reinforcement

5 types or levels of Call and Response sequence, listed next roughly in order of intellectual rigor, from least to greatest:
1.  Repeat
2.  Report
3.  Reinforce
4.  Review
5.  Solve

--Count-based cues
--Group prompt
--Nonverbal gesture
--Shift in tone and volume

Key Idea:  Use group choral response--you ask;  they answer in unison--to build a culture of energetic, positive engagement. (pg. 130)

Risks of Call and Response
--It can allow freeloading
--It does not provide effective checking for understanding
--It reinforces the behavioral culture in your classroom only if it's crisp

Technique 24- Pepper
"[T]he teaching technique by the same name, also uses fast-paced, group-oriented activities to review familiar information and foundational skills.  A teacher tosses questions to a group of students quickly, and they answer back.  The teacher usually does not slow down to engage or discuss an answer.

*Head-to-head.  A teacher  using head-to-head begins by having two students stand up to answer a question.  The student who gets the correct answer first remains standing to compete agains a new challenger.

**Sit down.  This variation, usually done at the beginning of class, starts with all students standing and the teacher peppering them with the trademark quick questions.  Students "earn their seats" (get to sit down) by answering correctly.  (pg. 134)

Technique 25-Wait Time (pg. 134)

Technique 26-Everybody Writes (pg. 137)

Key Idea: Set your students up for rigorous engagement by giving them the opportunity to reflect first in writing before discussing.

Technique 27-Vegas (pg. 141)
"It's upbeat but often short, sweet, and on point.  And once it's done, it's done." 9pg. 141)


Technique 28-Entry Routine
"Entry Route is about making a habit out of what's efficient, productive, and scholarly after the greeting and as students take their seats and class begins." (pg. 151)

Technique 29-Do Now
"...a Do Now works because of consistency and preparation.  If there isn't a Do Now in the same place every single day, students can claim plausible deniability." (pg. 153)

Technique 30-Tight Transitions (pg. 154)
"...if you think older kids can't sing their transition think again, this time of the armed forces, where soldiers routinely sing songs as they move from place to place for much the same purpose;  to keep their mood up, focus them on the task, and avoid distractions.

Moving Materials (pg. 156)
*-Generally pass across rows, not up and back.  This avoids the need for turning around 180 degrees in chairs, an action that creates a golden opportunity for hard-to-see, hard-to-manage face-to-face interactions in which one person always has his or her back to you.

Technique 31-Binder Control
"Care enough about and demonstrate the importance of what you teach to build a system for storage, organization, and recall of what your students have learned." (pg. 157)

Technique 32-SLANT
Sit up.
Ask and answer questions.
Nod your head.
Track the speaker.

Technique 33-On Your Mark
"use On Your Mark to show them how to prepare before [class] begins and then expect them to do so everyday." (pg. 160)

1.  Be explicit about what students need to have to start class.
2.  Set a time limit.
3.  Use a standard consequence
4.  Provide tools without consequence (pencils, paper) to those who recognize the need before class.
5.  Include homework-Make turning it in part of the routine students follow to be ready for the day.

Technique 34-Seat Signals
"In short, you can't afford not to develop a set of signals for common needs, especially those that require or allow students to get out of their seats." (pg. 161)
  This system should meet the following criteria:
-Students must be able to signal their requests from their seats.

-Students must be able to signal requests nonverbally.

-The signals should be specific and unambiguous but subtle enough to prevent them becoming a distraction.

-You should be able to manage both the requests and your response without interrupting instruction.

-*You should be explicit and consistent about the signals you expect students to use, posting them on the wall so students can see them and disciplining yourself to require them by responding only when they are used.

Technique 35-Props (pg. 163)
also called "shout-outs" and "ups"--are public praise for students who demonstrate excellence or exemplify virtues.
Props criteria:

-Quick.  Be short so the energy level stays high.  The routine for Props should take less than five seconds from beginning to end.  The transition back to the task at hand is immediate.

-Visceral.  Props that don't use much in the way of words are less likely to get tiresome...furthermore there's something fun and muscular about the thunder of group percussion.

-Evolving.  Let you students suggest and develop ideas.

-"The Hitter".  You say, "Let's give Clarice a Hitter."  You kids pretend to toss a ball and swing a bat at it.  They shield their eyes as if to glimpse its distant flight.  Then they mimic a crowd noise suitable for a home run for some fraction of a full second.

-"Two Snaps, Two Stomps."


Technique 36-100 Percent
Key Idea: There's one acceptable percentage of students following a direction: 100 percent.  Less, and your authority is subject to interpretation, situation, and motivation. (pg. 168)

"Excellence is the habit:" (pg. 170)

Principles of 100 Percent Compliance
-Your goal is to get 100 percent compliance so you can teach.  You want the intervention to be fast and invisible.

Use the Least Invasive Form of Intervention (pg. 172)
-Nonverbal intervention.
-Positive group correction.
-Anonymous individual correction.
-Private individual correction.
-Lightening-quick public correction.

"...ignoring misbehavior is the most invasive form of intervention because it becomes more likely that the behavior will persist and expand.  The goal is to address behavior quickly--the first time it appears and while its manifestation is still minimal and the required response still small." (pg. 175)

Rely on Firm, Calm Finesse

"Achieving compliance is an exercise in purpose, not power." (pg. 175)

"I need your eyes on me so you can learn." is a more effective statement than, "I asked for your eyes because when I ask you to do something, I expect you to do it."

"100 Percent teachers are strategically impersonal."

Emphasize Compliance You Can See

-Invent ways to maximize visibility.
-Be seen looking.
-Avoid marginal compliance.

Technique 37-What To Do
"In schools we spend a lot of time defining behavior we want by the negative.  "Don't get distracted."  "Stop fooling around."  "That behavior is inappropriate."  These commands are vague, inefficient, and unclear.  They force students to guess what you want them to do."  (pg. 178)

"However, just telling kids what to do is not quite enough.  To be effective, directions should be specific, concrete, sequential, and observable:"

"You must distinguish between incompetence and defiance, responding to incompetence with teaching and defiance with consequence." (pg. 180)

Technique 38-Strong Voice
"Generally Strong Voice teachers follow five principles in their interactions with students--or at least in the interactions where they are trying to establish control." (pg. 182)

-Economy of Language.  When you need to be all business, be clear and crisp.  And then stop talking.

-Do Not Talk Over.  Controlling who has the floor is the mark of your authority and a necessity to your teaching.

-Do Not Engage.  Do not engage in squabbles with the students.

-Square Up/Stand Still

-Quiet Power.  Though it runs against all your instincts, get slower and quieter when you want control.  Drop your voice, and make students strain to listen.  Exude poise and calm.

Technique 39-Do It Again
Key Idea: Doing it again and doing it right, or better, or perfect is often the best consequence. (pg. 194)

Technique 40-Sweat the Details

Technique 41-Threshold

"Ideally you will find a way to greet your students by standing in the physical threshold of the classroom--astride the door, taking the opportunity to remind students where they are (they are with you now; no matter what the expectations are elsewhere, you will always expect their best), where they are going, and what you will demand of them (excellence and effort). (pg. 197)

"The point is not so much the doorway as the power of ritual to help kids see that your classroom is different from the other places they go." (pg. 199)

Technique 42-No Warnings

"The behavior that most often gets in the way of taking action is the warning...warnings tell students that a certain amount of disobedience will not only be tolerated but is expected." (pg. 200)


Technique 43-Postive Framing
"Using Positive Framing means making interventions to correct student behavior in a positive and constructive way." (pg. 204)

Key Idea:  Make corrections consistently and positively.  Narrate the world you want your students to see even while you are relentlessly improving it.

Positive Framing corrects and guides behavior by following six rules:

1.  Live in the now.
2.  Assume the best
         "One particularly effective way to assume the best is to thank students as you give them a command." (pg. 206)
3.  Allow plausible anonymity.
4.  Build momentum, and narrate the positive.
5.  Challenge!  Kids love to be challenged, to prove they can do things, to compete, to win.
6.  Talk expectations and aspirations.

Technique 44-Precise Praise
-In the long run, a teacher who continually praises what's expected risks trivializing both the praise and the things she really wishes to label "great". (pg. 212)

"Praising usually carries a judgement in addition to a mere description: "Fantastic work, John!"

Praise (and acknowledge) loud; fix soft
-Praise as specifically as possible and focus on exactly the behavior and action that you would like to see more of.

-Praise must be genuine.

Technique 45-Warm/Strict
"In balanced combination and proportions, warm (being positive, enthusiastic, caring, and thoughtful) and strict (being clear, consistent, firm, and unrelenting)." (pg. 214)

Technique 46- The J-Factor
"The common theme is for teachers to find a way to let their own genuine version of joy shine through." (pg. 215)

-The finest teachers offer up the work with generous servings of energy, passion, enthusiasm, fun, and humor--not necessarily as the antidote to hard work but because those are some of the primary ways that hard work gets done.

Technique 47-Emotional Consistency

Technique 48-Explain Everything
"...constantly remind students why they do what they do and ground their explanations in the mission;" (pg. 220)

Technique 49-Normalize Error
Key Idea:  Getting it wrong and then getting it right is one of the fundamental processes for schooling.  Respond to both parts of this sequence, the wrong and the right, as completely normal. (pg. 222)


-An alternative way of defining pacing is "the illusion of speed."

"When you maximize pacing, you teaching engages and interests students, giving them a sense of progress and change." (pg. 226)

"The rule states that a student's optimal attention span equals his or her age plus two...." (pg. 227)

"One of the greatest gifts a school can give a student is to increase his or her capacity to concentrate for extended periods of time.  That said, the most successful way to do that is clearly not to immerse your students in an hour of sustained note taking on the first day of school." (pg. 228)

-*Bounding each activity with finite time limits.

"Even mild suspense creates tension, excitement, and anticipation." (pg. 231)

"The countdown lends a sense of urgency to class time, reminding students that time matters and hastening them along to the next step." (pg. 232)


One At A Time
-Ask questions one at a time.  "Disciplining yourself to use the One at a Time technique, particularly when you're most engaged and enthused, helps focus students on developing one idea at a time and focuses you on questioning with a specific goal or purpose in mind." (pg. 237) 

Simple to Complex  (pg. 239)

-Repeat questions Verbatim (No Bait and Switch)  (pg. 240)

Clear and Concise  (pg. 240)

-Write [the questions] in advance when they matter. (pg. 241)

Stock Questions (pg. 241)

Hit Rate (pg. 243)

Part Two:  Helping Students Get The Most Out of Reading:  Critical Skills and Techniques

 Making Reading Instruction Productive and Accountable:  Control The Game

"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 exceed our hurdle rate--that is, yield more learning per minute invested than does the best reliable alternative use of class time."  (pg. 254)

Control The Game Skills

Keep Durations Unpredictable

"So when you identify the primary reader, don't specify how long you want him to read before he actually begins." (pg. 257)

Keep the Identity of the Next reader Unpredictable

"Students can tune out until their turn is near.  Holding on to your ability to choose the next reader also allows you to match students to passages more effectively.  Retaining unpredictability makes for better leverage and better reading."  (pg. 258)

Keep Durations Short

Reduce Transaction Costs

Use Bridging to Maintain Continuity

"In bridging, a teacher reads a short segment of text--a bridge--between primary student readers...The benefit of this method is that it moves the story along quickly and keeps the narrative thread alive, while interspersing teacher-quality expressive reading, which maximizes comprehension." (pg. 259)

Oral Cloze

-The teacher starts the sentence and the student/s finish it.  This quick device...allows [for] quick and simple leverage assessment.

Rely on a Placeholder  (pg. 260)

The Fundamentals:  Teaching Decoding, Vocabulary Development, and Fluency

Transaction Costs and Decoding (pg. 265)

Vocabulary (pg. 271)

"Good vocabulary instruction starts with a student-friendly definition that's simple and clear...champion teachers start there and spend their time having students practice using words widely and richly after they know the basic meaning.  They recognize that knowing a definition is a long way from being able to use a word effectively in writing or thought."  (pg. 271)

Six Techniques to Reinforce Strong Vocabulary  (pg. 273)

1.  Multiple Takes.  To enter a word into their functioning memory, students need to hear a word (and ideally its pronunciation) multiple times.

2.  Compare, Combine, Contrast.  Beware the "synonym model".  It's the difference between similar words that creates meaning in a passage.  (pg. 274)

3.  Upgrade.  Find opportunities to use richer and more specific words when-ever possible.

4. *Stress the Syntax.  Students often struggle to use new words in different settings.  They know inadvertent but can't turn it into inadvertently.

5. *Back to Roots.  Stress the foundational knowledge of roots so students can apply their understanding to new words.  (pg. 275)

6. Picture This.  Create a multidimensional image of each new word by using pictures and actions.

Vocabulary Methods for Specialists

Sequence to Introduce Vocabulary:  (pg. 275)

1.  Provide the definition and part of speech of a new vocabulary word.

2.  Provide a similar word, ideally one with which students are familiar, and explain how the vocabulary word is similar but different.

3.  Show students a picture that portrays the vocabulary word.  Explain why the picture is a representation of the word.

4.  Create a sentence, written by the class with your guidance, that reflects the word's meaning in a complete thought.

5.  List and discuss variations on the word, identifying their part of speech.

6.  Play vocabulary reinforcing activities and games using multiple takes and compare, combine, contrast.

7.  Write a sentence independently (usually as homework) using the word correctly and according to standards for quality vocabulary sentences.  (pg. 276)

Four Techniques to Reinforce Strong Fluency  (pg. 277)

Show Some Spunk

-"One Shakespearean expert I know proposed that the best way to read the Bard is to find and emphasize contrast words and emphasize the tension between them as you read.  You can start students off more simply by having them look for transition words (after, instead, suddenly) and comparative and superlatives (darker, faster, saddest, fullest) to emphasize.  (pg. 278)

Ask For Some Drama

-"Ask students to identify the two or three most important words in a sentence (or the two or three most important ideas in a passage) and place special emphasis on them.

-"Ask students to add to or extract something particular to or from the text by choosing a key descriptive word from the surrounding passage or even a vocabulary word and asking students to read a passage in a way that emphasized that word.  (pg. 278)

Check The Mechanics

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

-"Don't just have students read frequently; have them reread frequently."  (pg. 280)

COMPREHENSION: Teaching Students to Understand What They Read

Techniques For Building Comprehension

Prereading Techniques

-* Ten minutes of teacher-driven background and then getting right to reading is usually worth an hour of [KWL].  Efficiency matters. (pg. 285)


-"A big difference between an expert and a novice reader--indeed between an expert and a novice in andy field--is the ability to take in basic features very fast, thereby leaving the mind free to concentrate on important features."  (pg. 286)

Focal Points

-"To help students manage the complexity of a text, champion teachers steer them in advance toward key ideas, concepts, and themes to look for."  (pg. 287)

Front Loading

-"For a reading teacher front-loading scenes can also excite interest and increase comprehension by making the narrative seem more familiar at key points.  When you encounter a scene you've seen previewed in the midst of the movie and feel as if you've seen it before and recognize that it is of primary importance...."  (pg. 288)

During-Reading Techniques

Don't Wait

-"Among the most potent facts about top teachers is that they constantly check for understanding by asking students questions to see if they "get it" frequently and throughout the passages they read. (pg. 289)

Lower The Level (pg. 292)

-Word or phrase level of meaning

-Sentence level of meaning

-Passage level of meaning

-Story level of meaning

Evidence Based Questioning (pg. 293)

-"Top reading teachers constantly emphasize groundedness in the text, even on subjective and opinion questions, by asking evidence-based questions--that is, questions where students must make reference to a fact or event from the text."  (pg. 293)

Postreading Techniques (pg. 294)


-"When teaching students to summarize, ask questions like, "Who can describe the chapter by recapping its three most important events?" or "Can you summarize the author's two major arguements in support of his thesis?"  These questions are powerful because they ask students to prioritize information.  (pg. 294)

-"Another particularly effective strategy is to provide students with an ever-decreasing word limit for their summaries...."

Better Connections


-"These are preferable to text-to-world and text-to-self because they reinforce testable ideas rather than judgements, opinions, and stories that students may not be able to access...."  (pg. 295)


-"Text-to-media connections can often take conversations about texts off track.  It may be best to tell students that you are not looking for text-to-media connections.""  (pg. 296)


-"These questions are inevitable and valid, but they are also more limited in their relevance to other students and comprehension texts.  Although engaging, they can often lead classes astray."

1 comment:

  1. Many, many thanks for this outline of Lemov's important collection and explication of techniques observed in the most-successful teachers' work.