My Favorite "No" - using error analysis in math class

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I love the Teaching Channel! Last year, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to watch one short video a night before bed. Well, the every night-thing didn't happen (ha :-), but I did watch a whole bunch of terrific, inspiring videos in 2013! One of my favorites was called, "My Favorite No." I was originally intrigued by the title, but it was the content that got me hooked! (You can watch the 5 minute video here.)

In "My Favorite No," the teacher provides a brief pre-assessment in the form of an entrance card. The students work the problem to demonstrate what they learned the day before. The teacher then collects responses and sorts them into two piles: yes and no. "Yes" represents a correct answer and "No" is an inaccurate response. She then works with the class to analyze her "favorite no." She calls it her "favorite no" because it reflects strong thinking and problem solving and, as she says in the video, "A mistake is an opportunity to show how much you know." (LOVE this!) The activity provides reflection, analysis, and higher order thinking. Furthermore, it is quick and effective!

What I love most about this strategy is that in NO WAY penalizes students for being wrong. In fact, the whole process is designed to validate students and their thinking! I have been using this strategy - in various ways - with my 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in both reading and math. Like the teacher in the video, I've seen improvement in student accuracy, understanding, accountability, and metacognition. I have been so in love with this strategy that I created a series of task cards for my 4th and 5th graders to use as we explore, review, and extend the concept of fractions. Each card presents students with an error in problem solving, arithmetic, and./or reasoning. Using a problem solving mat, students rework the problem, show the correct answer, and explain the error.

My kiddos love this! They feel empowered analyzing mistakes, while developing a meaningful depth of understanding from analyzing and explaining the error.

You can download the tiered task cards here.

Thanks for checking in! Happy teaching!

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