Thursday, October 3, 2013

opportunity knocks

A colleague, Lali DeRosier, said something at the beginning of the year, and it has stuck. 
"You just have to keep giving students chances." 

Lali doesn't penalize students for skipping homework.  Instead, she rewards them if they do it.  Before tests, she posts powerpoints to help them review and hides answers to extra credit test questions in the powerpoint.  Students who study the powerpoint not only learn more and do better on the test but also earn the added reward of "secret information" that helps them excel. 

What is powerful about this philosophy is that it does two things.  First it helps students learn that there are consequences for both action and inaction.  Doing nothing and doing something both have consequences. 

But better, it allows students to make different choices and experience a different outcome.  They get to try on the "study hat" and the "don't study hat" and see what happens.  They can fall down and fail and then pick themselves up and try something different. 

In the world of hard knocks, we sometimes only get one chance to answer the door.  But these are kids and this is school and our job is to teach, not just once, but over and over, until it sticks. 

"You just have to keep giving students chances." 

Lali DeRosier is a smart science teacher.  If you'd like to learn more from her you can follow her on twitter @lalsox or read some of her writing here or here

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