Growth Mindset · Statistics

Helping Students Take Ownership of Learning

My Prob & Stats students have been working on Venn Diagrams and set notation for the last few days.  After grading their quizzes yesterday it was clear that my students were in different places and there was no common misconception.  I was planning on testing this Friday so that my students could enjoy the long weekend without having to study.  I then found out that the other Prob & Stats teachers were planning on testing on the Wednesday after the long break.  I decided to test with them to keep us on the same page and my students also need more time with the material.  I however was at my wit’s end on how to reteach this material because I had done my best throughout the week to prepare my students. I then decided to try something new and see what happened:

Identify the Problem

I passed back the quizzes so that students could see their responses and what they got incorrect.  Students were then tasked with identifying their problem.  This problem was not just I got number 4 wrong, but what was their misconception, what did they not understand, what questions did they have.  I walked around to help students dig deep and find the rot of their problem. Here are some sample problems that my students listed.

  • My problem is that I understand the concepts so I go really fast and then I mess up because I’m going too fast
  • The difference between unions and intersections when compliments are involved (this is a great problem statement because it is specific and clear)

The goal for students was to articulate their problems in a clear statement that gets to the root of the problem.  I told students that they could identify more than one problem if they had more than one.

Identify You Strengths

Student then took time to identify their strengths.  This helped students to see the positives in their understanding and how they could help their peers.  I then listed some major concepts on the board for the class including test taking skills.  I asked students for their strengths so that their classmates could use them as a resource.  At first students did not volunteer with a very open question so I moved to ask who felt comfortable being a resource for each topic and then students volunteered.

Use Resources

Students then went to each other to “fix” their problems.  This allowed the students to learn from each other and it help keep all of the students involved.  Students had the chance to help and to be helped.  This also freed me up to walk around and help as needed.  If I’m being honest I was not asked very many questions as the students relied on each other.

Student Thoughts and What We are Doing

I might not have been asked many questions about the content but I was able to talk with my students about the process.  Overall my students LOVED this.  They asked if we could do it more often because they found it very helpful.  After a class discussion here is what we concluded:

  • we will go through our problem solving process after quizzes so that students can learn from their mistakes and help each other
  • We will also use this process on review days or when students are working with a study guide.
  • The students also wanted a way to get points back (1/2) on their quiz and we came to the following conclusion
    • Explain the misconception/mistake on the problem
    • Write the correct answer
    • Explain the learning and why the new answer is correct

We even decided that we might try this at the beginning of a unit.  This would work with me giving a “study guide” for the unit and then letting the students use their prior knowledge, each other, and any other resources to solve their problem (learn the material)  I am hoping that my students will be able to start researching material and taking ownership and then few me, the teacher, as a resource and not the person that holds all of the knowledge.

Thanks for reading! If you have any similar processes that you use or recommendations to improve this process please let me know! I look forward to learning with everyone.



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