A student brings you a piece of writing and as you glance at it, you notice that he has problems with periods—many are missing, and a few are out of place.
You are moving around the room as students work on a math assignment and as you sit down beside one student, you see that she has done some of the problems correctly. When you look a little closer at the ones she got wrong, you see that she has made the same common error time after time.
A student hands an assignment in and you see right away that he has missed the point entirely—he might have been on a different planet when you were teaching the material, because he has done everything wrong, and you don’t know where to begin correcting the assignment.
Teachers have passed down the method for handling these situations for centuries—mark the papers, pointing out the errors, and ask the student to correct the errors. The teacher may look at the mistakes with the student and review the proper procedure, or may ask the student to refer to the textbook to find out how to do the work. In my experience, this approach works only with students who have got nearly all the answers right.
I agree. They learn something. But often what they are learning is not what the teacher thinks she is teaching.
M. Moriarty said it well in a comment on an earlier post:
To this day I cannot bear a red pen… it signals math failure to me – and try as I might – I never did learn from my many many mistakes in grade school math – what I learned was that I wasn’t very good at math and that after a while it really wasn’t any use to try…. Continue reading →
I don’t trust words that end in “-ed” when they are used to describe emotions.
Take “loved” for example, as in “I feel loved.” Well, no, “loved” is not a feeling. That sentence really means that you have noticed that someone loves you. What you feel is another thing. You may feel happy, joyful, ecstatic; you may feel love in return for the person who loves you.
On the other hand, if the person who loves you is a spouse that you want to divorce, you may feel guilty, sad, impatient, angry…. If the person who says “I love you,” is stalking you, you may be afraid, angry, anxious, curious…. Continue reading →
When I help students see and articulate what they do know, they may notice areas where they have trouble. For example, someone may say, “I make most of my mistakes when the denominators are different,” or “I get mixed up because I don’t know when to double the letter if I’m adding ‘ing.’”
When a student notices where he makes errors, that is a big step, a huge leap forward in learning. But it is quite different from me telling him where he needs help. When he analyzes his work and notices the patterns of errors he makes, it is a sign that he is fully engaged in the process, and has taken control of his learning.
When I analyze his work and point out the pattern of his errors to him, it is a sign thatIam fully engaged in the process, but he may or may not be paying attention. (from Marking for Confidence)
I remember the moment that I began to mark for confidence. It was Bernice who got me started.
The class was finishing up their writing, and putting it into the envelope that went upstairs to the secretary to be typed so that everyone could have a copy of everyone else’s stories. I tried to catch people as they finished up their work, to do a final proofread with them.
On that day, Bernice strode purposefully up to the envelope hanging behind me. Continue reading →
Evelyn brought me up sharply with her comment on my last post. She wrote, “…Talk about intimidating! I’ve read it a number of times now and still have to work my way through it to get the meaning! What do you like about it?”
I don’t mind being brought up sharply. It makes me think—and write. Still, after two recent posts people have asked for clarification. Maybe I should learn something from this… Continue reading →