top of page

Show Calling

 One of the six pedagogical principles of expert teaching is modelling, a research-informed strategy demonstrating to our students how to apply the essential knowledge and skills that they have acquired through our explanation to a variety of contexts. 

This can be achieved through admiring/ showing off work of other students. In Doug Lemov’s book ‘Teach like a Champion’, this strategy is referred to as Show Call. Lemov describes it as a type of ‘Cold Call’ which calls for examples of written work to be displayed to the class. He states that champion teachers use this technique to maximise rigor and accountability as well as to draw attention to examples of excellence in student work.

In my practice, I use many examples of modelling, such as live modelling, de-construction, construction or co-construction of a model answer. I also regularly use comparison models and models of excellence created by students themselves. 

From my observations, my students are most likely to relate to a model of excellence which has been created by their peer. If this model sets the bar high, they often feel more inclined to have the self-belief that they can reproduce it.

Sharing models of excellence is an excellent way of presenting students with concrete examples of the success criteria or for analysing specific linguistic structures, when they are completing a set activity. 

To demonstrate this, an example of conversation that I would have with the students in the class could be as follows:

“Ok everyone, please look at how Harry is making use of subordinating conjunction in his 130-150 word writing task: ‘ Der Kuchen hat mir geschmeckt, obwohl er ziemlich ungesund war.’ It is important to remember that subordinating conjunction will enhance our work and earn us more marks for range of language and accuracy. Could you give me other examples of subordinating conjunctions that we could use to enrich our writing? … Olivia?” (Cold Call)

Show Call strategy is highly effective when I need to improve students’ ability to manipulate and produce a specific aspect of language, i.e use of tenses, conjugation or a specific structure by drawing their attention to it. For this, I often use my visualiser to model students’ work live and to highlight the specific aspect.

It is important to remember, when we are teaching in our classroom, our students are operating first and foremost from their working memory, which is extremely limited and gets overloaded easily, therefore using ‘Show Call’ helps to harness students’ working memory.

In his book ‘Memorable Teaching’, Peps Mccrea elucidate on this: ” If we want to control what our students learn, we’ve got to be intentional and specific about what they should be attending to.”

The purpose of Show Call is to ‘create a strong incentive to complete writing with quality and thoughtfulness by publicly showcasing and revising students writing – regardless of who volunteers to share.’ (Lemov, Teach like a Champion 2.0)

This is just one example of how I model and explain new knowledge and skills that my students need to acquire. For more on modelling, see my previous post – Live modelling.

Examples of work used for Show Call – year 11

                *Examples of work used for Show Call – year 9                

*Examples of work used for Show Call – year 7

*templates by Elena Díaz-20 keys.


bottom of page