My Favorite Mistake Remix

Caveat: much of my work this year involves … first making sure that classrooms are safe and productive learning environments and then second helping classrooms that are mostly on the traditional spectrum become more awesome (aka student-thinking-centered).

One “tool” I’m thinking about today is this “favorite mistake” activity.  I first heard it as a Do Now review where the teacher quickly looks through student answers to the Do Now and then posts his/her “favorite mistake” for everyone to discuss.

In many of the classrooms I’m in, students are much more focused for the first 2/3 or so of class, and become less focused/productive near the end.  One idea I’m toying with is a remix of My Favorite Mistake …

With about 15 mins left in class, post one (high leverage) problem and two solutions.  Every time, there is EITHER one accurate/one mistake or two mistake.  Students think/write/decide in partners and then vote and discuss (this, tailored to the context and teacher, and more fleshed out).  Followed by some sort of exit ticket/reflection about the entire class.

I hope this idea will help give more focus/thinking/interest to the end of class.

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So, I’m also not really a math teacher this year…

I’m taking a year off from teaching the high schoolers to work with the teachers.  I’m really excited to visit different schools, students, and contexts as I support Boston Teacher Residency Graduates.  For the past week, I’ve been working with people to get their classrooms up and running.  I’ve been giving the same advice a lot, so I thought I’d consolidate it.

1) Keep it simple.  Better to do fewer things more in depth/well than be scattered.  If you have shortened periods, don’t try to cram things in.  As my boss put it, students will remember the “how” more than the “what.”

2) Don’t forget the “how”!  Especially at the beginning of the year, it’s important to outline expectations for how things get done.  Make sure you know how you want everything done and can explain it concisely.

3) What’s the purpose?  Backwards plan even “Unit 0.”  Know exactly why you are doing each activity.  Tell students why and how what they’re doing connects to the course.

4) Be positive and enforce your expectations.  Do it.  From Minute 0.

Happy first day of school, BPS teachers!