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Using Mistakes to Teach, Worksheets, and STEM Field Infographics

posted Apr 9, 2018, 4:40 AM by HSD Principal

As we seek to build grit and perseverance into students, helping them deal with mistakes is part of that challenge. Four researchers (one named Barlow!) have found that mistakes can be great teaching moments in classrooms. Their article discusses when mistakes should be used as teaching moments for the whole class. The authors say to look for mistakes that meet one of the following criteria:
  • The mistake is closely aligned with the goals of the lesson and moves the class toward solving the problem
  • The mistake gives insight into students’ understanding, fluency, and problem-solving
  • The mistake offers a novel approach to solving the problem. 
In order to make good use of those mistakes, the class can be structured in a way that allows mistakes to be a regular expectation, and not something to be feared:
  • Setting classroom norms that value mistakes; 
  • Planning and selecting tasks that elicit mistakes; 
  • Structuring lessons to maximize student thinking and collaboration; 
  • Helping students focus on and discuss mistakes in helpful ways.
  • The teacher following up effectively. 

This Cult of Pedagogy article on worksheets was making the rounds this week. Jennifer Gonzalez give some indicators of poorly designed worksheets, but more importantly, she gives some tips on how to make sure the worksheets we do use in classrooms are created in a way that will truly engage students and support their learning instead of just being a time filler.


And if you teach on STEM subjects, here are a set of infographics made by Dominic Walliman that show the breadth of possibilities within what might be thought of as a single field (eg. math or chemistry). 
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