Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers

Decreasing stress as students learn to discuss

This discussion is part of a collection:CCSS Practice Standard 3

One idea I've tried that helps students start to learn how to "critique the reasoning of others" is to provide them with student work that does not belong to them or their peers! So, for example, "Wooden Legs Videos" has a link to a "Math Fundamentals PoW Packet - Wooden Legs" (also cataloged in Mathlanding --

In that Packet there are "Our Solutions" which could be used - just cut them up and give one to each group. The activity could include
(1) take time to read independently
(2) notice and wonder about the method (strategy)
(3) prepare a 2-3 minute presentation to the class that might include:
* something that surprised the group as they read the solution
* something that didn't at first make sense but after discussion became clearer
* a problem where this method might work well
* a problem where this method might not work well (and why)

Another idea using the Packet is to cut up the "Sample Student Solutions" section. I wouldn't include the right sidebar because it gives too much away. The task could be to talk about the solution and as a group revise it. Or the task could be to write a note to the submitter including (1) one thing you value in their work (I notice...) and (2) one questions you have that might help them reflect and revise (I wonder ...)

In classes that I've done this, the stress has been decreased. We focus more on the process of giving feedback and having conversations and that feeling of "ownership" of the solution is not part of it.

Have you done similar activities to decrease the stress in talking about student work?



In my classroom I have had students rate BCRs and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of them. Sometimes I write my own good and bad ones and other times I choose students and do not display the names. When I choose students responses I purposely choose 2 or 3 level responses so the kids usually feel pretty good about it and will take credit for their work eventhough I don't ask them to. I find it easier to create my own poor responses so that students don't feel really bad about themselves.