Saturday, October 12, 2013

Saturday Sayings: Are You Right?




Isn't this so true?  A few years ago I heard a math teacher tell about the day she asked a mathematician about his solution, and he immediately began erasing it.  This young man, and many other children, have been trained by adults to believe they must be wrong if they are ever questioned.  I wonder if some children have no real clue as to whether they are correct or not.  No questions = I'm right.  Questions = I'm wrong.  What a disservice to our young thinkers.  We need to ask more questions.

I love how this thought translates into other subject areas as well.  Several years ago during my Reading Recovery training, I learned how important it is to question readers, especially when they're right.  The question, "Are you right?" makes them analyze their attempts, their thinking, and their strategies, and for many of them, "yes" is an uncomfortable answer to give.  Further asking, "How do you know?" takes the process another important step.  It trains them to know when their attempts are right and why they're right, hopefully increasing the odds of more good strategy work in the future.  After a while, this uncomfortable interaction becomes something they can do with more ease, and the validation of knowing they're right and why, builds confidence so that the next time an adult questions their work, they won't be tempted to break out the eraser.


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16 comments:

  1. It's true of adults too. My principal (this is his second year at my campus) asks questions of us all the time. Even if our answer may be "right". It used to cause me to second guess myself but now I see it as an opportunity to deepen the "right" answer. Good post!

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    1. Leigh Anne, you make a great point. As adults, we're definitely the same way.

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  2. I am so glad you brought this up, Tammy. My little guys seem to be so unsure of themselves and when I question them, they will immediately abandon their answer. I try to teach them to have confidence in their thinking and use their words to explain it- just because I question you, doesn't mean you are wrong. Poor things get the deer in the headlights look sometimes. I want them to think it through and be confident!
    Lori
    Conversations in Literacy

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    1. Lori, I know the deer in the headlights look all too well. Confidence is a great bi-product of all our questions.

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  3. SO true I crack up when my kids quickly change their answers even when I just say why? how come? or how do you know? I like to make them "back up" their knowledge.

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    1. Tammy, I hear ya. Backing up their knowledge is so important.

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  4. When I ask, "How do you know?" - I often get a look that resembles somebody wanting to erase their answer - so I'm quick to add, "I think you are right, but why do you think that?" Good point!

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    1. Sara, hopefully our kids will become accustomed to all the many times we ask, "How do you know" so that we'll get fewer looks. :)

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  5. Thanks for the great reminder! Asking these types of questions breaks down the idea that there is a "secret code" but it also underlines the importance of providing evidence and communicating your thinking!

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    1. Amy, communicating their thoughts and providing evidence are sure important, so we'll keep asking the questions. :)

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  6. I see this with my kiddos when we talk about ethics as well. They will make an argument and I play devil's advocate and question it, so their argument just changes. After a while though, they start to get it and will just start backing up that argument better! :)

    NotJustChild'sPlay

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    1. Miss Trayers, I can totally see them just getting used to the questions after a while. It takes practice, huh? :)

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  7. So true, Tammy. I often have to say, "Stop! Don't erase! Just answer my question." :-) I'm working on asking them more about their thinking more often...then I love to say, "Say it like you mean it!" when they are right but uncertain...

    Crystal
    Teaching Little Miracles

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    1. Crystal, I like "Say it like you mean it!"

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  8. Haha! Yup, I could have written all the comments above. The same things happen with my kids too:). Also, when I ask someone a question who's just sitting there they look shocked and always say, "But I didn't have my hand up!"
    Barbara @
    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

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    1. Barb, yep I've heard that one too! :)

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