I've seen a teacher using something he calls a "mistakes tally" where he actually keeps track of the different classes (he teaches middle school). When someone makes a mistake and realizes it, or takes a risk when asking a question they get to add a tally mark with their name, then when they amount to a certain number the class wins a prize/celebration of some type. I thought this was a great way to celebrate mistakes and help the students acknowledge their importance in the learning process.
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I like asking, "What questions might someone else in the class (like maybe a neighbor or friend) have?" or "What things might a person be confused or feel unsure about?" Deflected questions like these take the pressure off kids from "feeling dumb" for asking a question or being confused. As much as we work to normalize not-knowing, sometimes it's easier for kids to say, "I think 'someone' might not get..." instead of admitting "I don't get..."
Get a question box where, at the end of the lesson, you tell the entire class to write down their main concerns and what they don't understand. You assure them that their questions will be anonymous. Then the next time you have them, you try to your best to cover any confusions during the stater activity. It's an effective method that used to work for me. Although, you have to be careful as some students can mess around and waste your time. Good luck!
I use "Bonus Bucks" to reward students for great questions or alternative solutions. I let them know that their questions help me help them, and I LOVE rewarding them for sharing their thoughts!
I use a pair/share method. However, instead of labeling the students "Partner A" and "Partner B", one is the teacher and one is the student. After giving direct instruction for a lesson, they go with their partners. The "teacher" is given a problem and asks questions of his/her partner, the "student". After a few minutes I bring the students back together to get a final answer. At this point, I have the students share any questions that arose during their Teacher/Student activity. For some reason, this has lowered the anxiety level for students, because they were asked to ask their partners of any questions they had. If their partner didn't know the answer, they at least knew that they weren't the only one with the question. This definitely took some modeling at the beginning of the school year. But as the year went on, the student's felt more confident in explaining their thoughts and asking meaningful questions!
Often after being up in front of the classroom teaching a new concept, I would then circulate around the room while students worked on a problem and check in quickly. If there is a student not doing anything, doodling, or looking around the room distractedly, then they are likely stuck and when prompted one-on-one will often ask for help or at least take the offer of receiving some. Also, it's great for teachers to recognize when they make a mistake or don't know something off the top of their head and can model to the students that even we need help sometimes!
From the first day of school I try to foster a sense of comfort and safety among my students and constantly tell them that no sincere question is dumb or stupid. I tell them that at least one other person in the class has the same question and that they can help others by asking about what they do not understand. I answer the question by always replying that is a great question and trying to answer it to their understanding. I also have students clip up or give them a rewards ticket for taking the risk of asking a sincere question and them I have students trying harder to understand the concept.
I make sure I point out my own mistakes A LOT! And I let them know that I make mistakes too! I let them know from day one that it is okay to be wrong or not know. That's why we are learning together.
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