I love that getting a new group of students reminds me how far the group of students I had the previous year grew over the course of the year -even if it didn’t feel like it at the time! There are numerous times in those first few weeks (even months) of school that I find myself thinking, “Oh my gosh, that’s right! I was intentional about teaching them that.”
One of the things that has stood out to me the most with my 8th graders this year is how when looking at a worked out problem that has a mistake in it, they struggle to see the mistake, whether it’s their own or someone else’s work. Not all students know how to look at a worked out problem and process through what was done to solve it. If there was a mistake in their own work, they often don’t even try to look for the small mistake, rather they just erase their work and start over.
At first, I didn’t remember this being as much of a struggle for last year’s group. Then I remembered I was thinking of my 8th graders last spring -not my 8th graders last fall. That group of 8th graders struggled with this too, but by the end of the year they had improved in this area so much. It caused me to stop and think about what things I do throughout the year that helps them grow in this area.
Find the Flub
I use Find the Flub pretty regularly for our warm-ups at the start of the year. This is one of the first experiences students have looking for mistakes in an already worked out problem in my classroom. I like that it’s low risk in that students aren’t looking for a mistake they made. It’s someone else’s mistake. I’ve found that adding numbers to each line of the problem gives students a good way to talk about the mistakes they see. “From line 1 to 2, …”
My Favorite No
This is another warm-up activity I use from time to time. I tend to use My Favorite No more often, but I still like this one as it provides me with information on how each of my students are doing with a concept. I put a problem up on the board for students to do. Then I collect all of their answers and pick my favorite mistakes and put that work up on the board and have students figure out what was wrong with it. I usually combine mistakes from a couple different students. I originally saw this idea on the teaching channel, and I talk about how I use this in this post.
Another big way that students get practice looking over already worked out problems for mistakes is by making corrections to spiral worksheets. This is the only one of the three that I have already helped students find the mistake, but they have to figure out why it is a mistake and fix it. I wrote about that process in this post.
I would love to hear other ways that you help your students improve in this area.