But as with anything, there are problems:
1. If part of the book’s purpose is to establish nomenclature for classroom techniques, the actual choice of names could use some work. Are “Do Now” and “Ratio” sufficiently descriptive to remember what they are and not mix them up with other things? Are we really supposed to designate “fun” activities as “The J-Factor”?
2. Related to that, some techniques have had long-established names that the book ignores. “Do Now” is bellwork. “Board = Paper” is a graphic organizer.
3. I can hope here “wrong” just meant “not following classroom procedure”, but that might be optimistic:
When a student in her fifth grade math class was unable to explain what was wrong with writing the number 15/6, Kelli Ragin cued: “Well, what do we always do when the numerator is larger than the denominator?” Instantly the student caught on. “Oh, we need to make a mixed number so I divide 6 into 15.”
4. Technique 13, Name the Steps, perfectly matches the Devlin quote: In Math You Have to Remember, In Other Subjects You Can Think About It.
Let me summarize Lemov’s approach: in mathematics the best format is to immediately give a multi-step recipe, followed by a mnemonic device, followed by more memorization, followed by making sure the students have it memorized.
Constructivist possibilities aside, even in a highly traditionalist classroom a strictly recipe-based approach can go awry. I watched an “exemplar” video once of effective tutoring where a student worked out a recipe for solving the Pythagorean theorem, that went something like this:
Square the two sides.
Add the squares you get.
Take the square root.
This is without reference to algebra, or the fact that the leg might the missing value.
Not only is there a high danger of error, there’s a severe lack of generality. I have doubts the students (who can apparently drill quite well in 6 times 9 and the perimeter of a regular octagon of sides 3x + 2) have as much luck approaching anything unfamiliar.
5. The pace in the ideal Lemov classroom tends to the hyperkinetic. The No Opt Out technique for when a student responds “I don’t know” to a question is to bounce it to another student and rebound it on the original student, rather than allowing more wait time or interjecting with Socratic questioning. Even the section on Wait Time mentions Narrated Wait Time as a way of filling dead air.
I have heard of Japanese classrooms with a single difficult problem that students will ponder over for 5 minutes before the silence is broken. With deeper problems, longer thinking time is required.