So today I asked on Twitter, #mtbos What specific activities or actions do you take to create a safe, risk-taking classroom environment?
@jrobbins00 I reward/praise students for failing or getting incorrect answers if answering in front of class.
@MaryBourassa Also when putting up a solution, they can choose to make mistakes. No one knows if mistakes are on purpose or not.@luvbcd Model that mistakes are OK.If Ss see you make a mistake & explain where you want wrong they'll feel safe to do same.
When @MCorioFCPS mentioned interest inventories I realized that was a place I could start. I use one every year. I assign it, collect it, read through them ... and promptly file them. I don't use the information in them effectively, honestly, very little. This year I want to do something with the information. I'm not sure what that will look like and if you have good ideas, I'd love to hear them.
I also want to use an idea I found in Math Tools, Grades 3-12: 60+ Ways to Build Mathematical Practices, Differentiate Instruction, and Increase Student Engagement by Silver, Brunsting, Walsh, and Thomas. Students will answer a question for our warm-up activity that will identify a favorite something. We'll combine the data and do a quick math activity with it. For example, what is your sports jersey number (or favorite 2-digit number)? In your group of five, solve this equation with your numbers (a, b, c, d, and e): a + bx + c(x + d) = e. Other activities include their favorite shape, their favorite ice cream, their favorite song. By sharing our favorites aloud and using the data, I hope to help students get to know one another better and get to know me as well.
@MaryBourassa mentioned counting circles and estimation 180. I used Estimation 180 a few times this past year. My students loved it and asked for more. But I got caught up in "covering" curriculum and didn't take the five minutes to enjoy the estimation. There, I confessed. I have to fix that.
I was unfamiliar with counting circles so I looked it up. I found Sadie Estrella's presentation at Twitter Camp last year. But as I watched it I wondered how I could make that work with advanced students in Algebra 2. Then I read @jacehan's blog about counting circles in Algebra 2. He provided some excellent ideas!
I remembered last year that someone posted a weekly warm-up routine handout. I scanned through #made4math and found the one that @algebraniac1 made. I like hers and plan to modify it since we are on an A/B schedule. I think using a warm-up routine that taps into some of the super math sites with engaging visual math situations will help promote discourse and give opportunities for all of us to make mistakes and learn from them.
This past year I used My Favorite No fairly often in the second semester. I think this activity helped our community of learners become comfortable with mistakes because we talked about what the student did well as well as the errors made. Using the process early in the year, and more regularly may help us accept the idea of mistakes more easily.
In our #EduRead chat on Wednesday night we talked about using growth mindset language and teaching students about grit. @kklaster mentioned teaching the vocabulary, grit, frustration, comfort zone, and telling students, "Today is a 'grit' day" so that they are prepared for a struggle! She writes about teaching "grit" here!
I look forward to more reading this summer - how to create a safe, risk-free environment. If you have specific activities, please share in the comments!