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Make Math Moments Academy Forums Community Discussion Water Cooler Why are kids afraid to think? Reply To: Why are kids afraid to think?

  • Dave Winkel

    July 1, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    I guess I haven’t really tried any specific strategy or resource, more so just talking to the kids on a regular basis about taking risks and being ok with making mistakes.  

    I tried to create an environment where student thinking and risk taking was celebrated by doing warm up activities that were open ended or allowed for multiple solution strategies and then praised students for sharing their solutions/strategies with the rest of the class.  I knew that developing this culture would take time, so I kept waiting for things to take root, but it seems like they never did.  The same students who always would try and stick with the warmups did, and the ones who didn’t engage and easily game up would still avoid diving in.  

    I use random groups every day, so I tried choosing a “group of the day” at the end of every class period where I would select a group that did a good job demonstrating the type of collaboration and perseverance I was looking for.  When I chose my group of the day I would of course acknowledge some of the reasons why I chose that particular group and then they would get a small treat/piece of candy at the end of class.  This seemed to work initially, but wore off over time so I eventually stopped doing it.

    Late in the year I tried having a series of question cards available whenever I was doing a notice & wonder task.  I would have a couple “starter” questions for groups that were having a hard time getting going in order to give them a little more direction without directly telling them what to do.  I would also try to have some “extension” questions available for groups that finished quickly and were ready to dig a bit deeper.  I was only able to try these a couple of times, but it seemed like it was somewhat helpful.  My fear with the “starter” type questions is that certain groups or students would just sit around and wait for me to give them these questions in an effort to avoid thinking or making mistakes.