Sunday, August 28, 2011

Missing the Point

Recently, I wrote about my system for assigning practice. I give students an answer bank with every assignment so that they can find mistakes and revise their work.

I know why I do it this way. The purpose of these assignments is practice, so I want to give them feedback while they are working. I want students to keep practicing until they are doing it correctly. I want them to learn from their mistakes.

We have only been in school for 8 days, but I have spent a lot of time trying to communicate this to students. I keep getting responses that tell me students don't really get it, like these:

1.  Extreme excitement, because having the answers feels like legalized cheating.
2.  Confusion (usually from the high achieving students), because they don't think it is fair that everyone has an equal chance of getting all the answers right.
3.  Resistance, from students who feel like it is pointless to show their process since they already know the answer.

Practice is a process, dear students! I will assess you soon, I promise.

I am not sure how I can help my precious Algebra 2 students to understand.

It seems obvious (but not all inclusive) to use some sort of sports analogy:  If you are learning a new football play and you totally mess it up, the coach doesn't mark a D- in the grade book and call it a day, does he? No, he doesn't. He sends you back out there to try it again until you get it right.

That is all I have for now . . . I am going to keep working on it.


  1. I believe I shared my HW plan for the year with you. My students too are missing the point. They are so confused by the fact that I don't collect HW everyday. "What, you don't want the me to turn the HW in?"

  2. I use a court analogy. When you go to court, you don't walk up and say 'I'm innocent' and they say okay and let you go home. You have to present justifiable evidence that proves your innocence without a doubt. Showing your process of thinking is your evidence to me that proves your understanding without a doubt. I'm the judge and they are the lawyer- what are they presenting?

  3. Hi! Just found your blog via continuous everywhere and have already starred about 20 things. :) It just so happens that our soccer team has new t-shirts today has a message that's perfect to share with your students about practicing: "Good players practice until they get it right. Great players practice until they don't get it wrong." Off to check out some more posts!

  4. Love the quote, and the court analogy! Thanks for taking the time to comment.