Errors Deserve a Standing Ovation!

Said no student ever!

Kate Nowak commented on group work during one of her first days back in the classroom. She was concerned about public treatment of student errors. I shared the way my class treats errors, especially the ones made in front of classmates.

I say, “Errors! I love errors! Errors are how I learn!” I get this huge goofy smile on my face, and I have everybody stand up.
I say. “Let’s give your classmates a standing ovation!”then we all clap and cheer madly. “Let’s fix those errors!”

And I start asking thinking type questions, devil’s advocate type questions, and making hmmm and uh-huh, and “I see” type comments…..

The first time I did this, I got the best most confused looks! Then these great courageous kids jumped right in and proceeded to reexamine the problem. That THEY then corrected. They were eager to correct the mistakes. Other students pitched in with ideas. Then I tell them they got new dendrites!

(You think I got funny looks with the hand-clapping? Wait’ll you see the looks when you tell ’em they have dendrites!)

My students are now looking for mistakes! They are laughing. They tell me they like coming to my class. This is what learning is supposed to look like, I think. And besides, doesn’t everybody love getting a standing O every now and again!

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