Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Answer - Right is Right and Stretch It

Our next letter in our STAAR acronym is the letter "A" which stands for Answer - Right is Right and Stretch It.  Right is Right and Stretch It are both techniques from the book, "Teach Like a Champion."  They are great tools for setting high expectations in your classroom.

Right is Right is centered around "setting and defending a high standard of correctness in your classroom."  Lemov outlines four categories within this technique:

1. Hold out for all the way - Great teachers praise students for their mastery but never confuse effort with mastery.

2. Answer the question - Students learn quickly in school that when you don't know the right answer to a question, you can usually get by if you answer a different one, especially if you say something true.

3. Right answer, right time - Students sometimes want to show you how smart they are by getting ahead of your questions, but it's risky to accept answers out of sequence.

4. Use technical vocabulary - Good teachers get students to develop effective right answers using terms they are already comfortable with.  Great teachers get them to use precise technical vocabulary.

These are excerpts from the book. For full descriptions and examples of these four categories please refer to pages 35-40 in the book.

Stretch It is based on the key idea that "the sequence of learning does not end with a right answer; reward right answers with follow-up questions that extend knowledge and test for reliability.  This technique is especially important in differentiating instruction."

Lemov details several specific types of Stretch It questions that are especially effective:

1. Ask how or why - The best test of whether students can get answers right consistently is whether they can explain how they got the answer.

2. Ask for another way to answer - There are often multiple ways to answer a question.  When a student answer a question one way, it's a great opportunity for us to ensure they can use all available methods.

3. Ask for a better word - Students often being framing concepts in the simplest possible language.  This allows them to use new, more specific words and develop their vocabulary.

4. Ask for evidence - Stresses the importance of building and defending sound arguments.

5. Ask students to integrate a related skill - In the real world, questions rarely isolate a skill precisely.  Try asking students to integrate that skill with other skills they recently mastered.

6. Ask students to apply the same skill in a new setting - Once students have mastered a skill, ask them to apply it in a new or more challenging setting.

These are excerpts from the book.  For full descriptions and examples of these four categories please refer to pages 41-47.

These techniques are centered around asking students to justify their answers and encouraging them to stretch their thinking.

This week we are focusing on sorting by shape and we are also learning how to read, write and create sets of the number 2.  Today I wanted to combine those two skills so we did a sorting activity with the numbers 0, 1 and 2.  I wrote those three numbers on dry erase boards and asked my kiddos to look at them for a minute and think about how they would sort them.  One of my sweet babes says he would put 1 and 2 together in a hula hoop and the number 0 in the other one.  I asked why he sorted them that way.  He then said that the bottom of the 2 is like the 1.  I said, "Can you explain that further?"  He then went on to tell us that the bottom of the number 2 was a straight line just like the number 1 was a straight line.  The number zero is shaped like a circle and there are no straight lines.  So he sorted the numbers based on those that have a straight line and those that do not have any straight lines.  I almost fell over.  I think I scared them with my excitement.  I was so proud that I almost cried right there in front of them.

So we cleared the board and I asked, "What is another way we can sort these numbers?"  Another little sweetie chimed in that we could put them back exactly like they were.  When I asked why he sorted them that way he began to explain that zero is nothing and 1 and 2 are something.  At this point I'm thinking I have to be teaching first graders right?  These little smarties are busting out with this kind of thinking on Day 8 of the school year!

By this point it is abundantly clear that we can take this much further with them, so we did.  I put out both hula hoops and placed the number 0 in one and the number 1 in the other.  We talked again about how zero doesn't have any straight lines and the number 1 is a straight line down.  I then showed them the number 2 and asked them where it would go.  "If we are putting only curved lines with the 0 and only straight lines with the 1, where would the number 2 go?"  After some think time, a few friends caught on that it has both curved and straight lines.  That's when I showed them how to overlap the hula hoops to make a Venn diagram.  We placed the two in the middle because it had both types of lines.  We then took it a step further by looking at other numbers and deciding where they should go in our Venn diagram and why.  Blow. Me. Away.  These kids are incredible!  We were not only sorting by shape (formation of the numbers) but we also incorporated the three numbers we have been working on for the past couple weeks.

Here is a picture of our finished Venn diagram.  It's nothing cute or fancy but it was effective.

I'll be back tomorrow with the next letter in our acronym....Actively Monitor.

1 comment :

  1. Ha ... I am glad they knew the difference in straight lines and curved lines!! That is what we are studying in art right now.