At Twitter Math Camp, I went to a session led by Jessica and Lisa on warm-ups they use. (Here’s the link to the TMC Wiki page with the stuff from their presentation.) One of the warm-ups they mentioned that stood out to me is what they call “Find the Flub”. A worked out problem is put on the board, and students need to find the mistake or the “flub”. I have not done this part, but Jessica and Lisa then have students classify the mistake that was made -similar to what Sarah Carter talks about in this post.
I knew I wanted to incorporate some version of this into my warm-ups this year because I’m really trying to focus on the role mistakes play in learning this year with my students. Here’s how it has played out in my classroom these first few weeks of school.
So far, all the problems I’ve used are problems I work out and take pictures of to put up on the Smartboard. Students are directed to find the mistake, explain it, and then correct it.
One of the first times I did this with students, I walked around the room while they were working and saw they had answers written down. When I asked for a volunteer to explain the mistake, silence. I KNEW students had answers, but no one was willing to share.
Then, I remembered Sara’s Stand and Talks. (Read about them here. Scroll down to #4.) I instructed students to stand and once everyone was standing I said something along the lines of this, “Find a partner and talk about a mistake you found in the problem and why it is a mistake. If neither you nor your partner found a mistake, work together to find one.”
Instantly, nearly everyone in the room was discussing the problem and debating about whether something they thought was a mistake was actually a mistake.
When conversation started to die out, I then gave the following instructions, “Find a new partner and discuss a mistake in the problem. It might be something you just learned from your partner or it could be something you already had written down on your paper.”
All of that probably took less than 3 minutes, and after students returned to their seats, I asked again for someone to explain a mistake in the problem to me. Nearly every hand in the room was up and students were eager to share.
I don’t always have students find a second partner, especially when I know there’s only one mistake in the problem, but I need to. Writing this post reminded me of why I had students get with a second partner the first time I did this. It was my attempt to give students who didn’t have something to talk about with their first partner an opportunity to talk about a mistake, as well as to get students listening to each other and practice explaining each other’s thinking.
I LOVE when I unintentionally do something that turns out to be something I use over and over again in my classroom. I think this is one of those things. Now every time I do Find the Flub for a warm-up problem, I pair it with a Stand and Talk and so far I’ve gotten great responses from students.