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Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

03.05.14Katie McNickle’s Show Call (Video)

Document Camera + Cold Call = Show Call

When you finally get your hands on TLaC 2.0, technique #36 (or thereabouts) will be something you didn’t see in the first edition of the book: Show Call.

The idea was developed by teachers at Uncommon who adapted Cold Call with a view to building incentive for students to do top quality work when writing or doing other independent practice.  In a Show Call, a teacher who has just asked students to work independently for a certain amount of time Cold Calls students by taking their paper and using a document camera to project their work for discussion.

The result has not only been immensely more productive independent work time but a really positive culture where students take pride in their work. And where they learn to analyze their peer’s work with specificity and insight. Gail McGee, the head of our partnerhsip with HoustonIndependent School District, told us that Show Call has become a “staple” in their TLaC classrooms, an instant favorite of teachers and students alike.  “I was in Mr. Cruz’s room watching him use Show Call,” she told us, “And the kids were really playing the role of teacher analyzing their classmates’ work.”

To show you how useful Show Call can be I thought I’d share a new video we cut this morning (!) down at TLac Towers of North Star Academy’s Katie McNickle using Show Call.


Some thoughts:

  • Love that Katie: 1) Show Calls multiple students and 2) makes a point of circulating and making it clear that she’s looking carefully at what students do. These things build in the accountability.  There’s a good chance your work is going up on the projector so you’d better do your best.
  • Love also that the work she chooses is exemplar work.  And that she chooses different ways of solving a problem to highlight different approaches to mathematical thinking.
  • Love that there’s no fuss about taking the papers. She just takes them.  She’s a loving boss.  But she’s still the boss.
  • Love that she “withholds the right answer” until the very end. That plus the time she invests in having classmates explain one another’s thinking makes it really clear that she cares most about the thinking behind the math.



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