Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Wednesday Mistakes

Case 1:

Here is one major difference between my 10th grade geometry students and my 8th/9th grade geometry students. A couple of times I've had the wrong answer on an answer key that I'm projecting on the document camera. My 10th graders just quietly assume they're wrong, and mark it wrong and put my (incorrect) answer on their pages without mentioning anything to me. Are they just on autopilot? Do they just assume they don't know anything? Do they just not try to figure out their/my mistake? Do they think I'm god(dess) and can do no wrong? Three periods later, at least one of my 8th/9th graders when checking their homework, will raise their hand and politely ask how I got such an answer, and when I rework it out, I see my mistake. Yeesh!

Case 2:

I'd called on a girl to answer a question, and she had the "deer/headlights" look, and said, "don't call on me. I'm having a really bad day." Feeling sorry for her, I called to the class, "does anyone have a joke that we can cheer her up with?". No one answered, so I pulled out the 1st I could think of:

Why don't blind people like to skydive?
It scares the dog.

Pause. Laughter when it sinks in for various people in the class.

Then the original girl pipes up, "my dog just died".


Time for bed.


  1. At a course I'm taking, the instructor said:

    "Students with a history of not being successful have a high tolerance for not understanding"

    I think we're seeing this played out in these two geometry sections.

  2. Yup, makes me sad. Maybe I can purposely put in a mistake (as if I need to), and tell them one day there is one, and they have to find it. Maybe that'll get them in the habit and build confidence if they start practicing searching/thinking.

    Ms. Cookie

  3. Anonymous9:48 AM

    In most cases, the slower students are correct in assuming that differences between their answers and teacher answers are that they are wrong. Bright students are used to being smarter than their teachers and are much more likely to challenge a teacher, even when the student has made a mistake. I don't know if there is any way to make the slow students more confident (nor whether it would actually benefit them, since they usually *are* wrong). It is possible to shut the smart students up, but it certainly harms them and their future teachers to do so, as it causes them to lose respect for teachers in general.

    Once in a long while you will get a student who not only finds your mistakes but can explain the problems better than you can. These students are to be prized, but are more often squelched by teachers who are insecure.

  4. Yes, I think that if there was a way to make them question things more and think things through, it seems that it would be possible to make them "do math better".

    Ms. Cookie