Patty’s students give advice to their peers about perseverance and strategies they can use to help themselves in an upcoming MARS performance assessment task. She asks “What do you do when you’re stuck? What strategies should you try?” Students think, write, then share their strategies with each other. They identify strategies using anchor charts and calculators, drawing pictures, consulting a peer, taking their time, double-checking their work, and ensuring that it makes sense.
PATTY FERRANT: I want you to give advice to your peers — that's your friends in this classroom — to help them be successful on the MARS test next week. What do you do when you're stuck? What strategy should they try? I want you to find someone new right now and go give them advice. So one person in the group leaves. Go fast, go! We only have, like, three minutes.
STUDENT: Uh, when you're done with the problem, keep checking, check it two times, and check the anchor poster if it makes sense.
STUDENT: When you're stuck take a deep breath and calm yourself and don't get [inaudible].
STUDENT: Double check your answers. Make sure each aspect of your problem is correct because if not, the outcome will be wrong. Do a three-read for at least every problem, check your answers, and be sure, um, you're neat so you won't get lost in your work.
STUDENT: And you go with your gut. Yeah.
PATTY FERRANT: Did your partner give you advice on a good strategy or did you give your partner a good advice on a strategy? What's a strategy? Anyone. A strategy you can use. Aaliyah?
STUDENT: Do a three-read.
PATTY FERRANT: A three-read. That is definitely, I think, number one. What do you do when you're stuck, Jazzlyn?
STUDENT: Use the anchor posters.
PATTY FERRANT: Oh my gosh, use the anchor posters! Absolutely! What else?
STUDENT: Draw pictures.
PATTY FERRANT: Draw pictures! Draw pictures! Absolutely draw pictures! What other strategies? Yeah?
PATTY FERRANT: Say again.
PATTY FERRANT: Make some equations. Perhaps there's going to be a situation that if you make an equation it's going to make sense. So making equations, drawing pictures. Yeah?
STUDENT: Make a table.
PATTY FERRANT: Making systematic.
PATTY FERRANT: Oh, thank gosh you said that! Labeling anything you know. Ashley?
STUDENT: Don't rush.
PATTY FERRANT: Don't rush. Yeah. Don't rush. You have as much time as you need. Double check your work. So especially if you're done early, double check that work.
STUDENT: Underlining important things.
PATTY FERRANT: Underlining, highlighting important information. Absolutely. Be organized, be systematic so you're not getting lost in the work and it's making no sense. I think it goes back to making sure you label things, underline things. Um, are you allowed to use calculators?
PATTY FERRANT: Yeah, use them, but don't just one time. Double check what you put in a calculator because sometimes we put things in a calculator that doesn't even make sense to us. Um...oh wait, and make sense. What should you always try to make sense of?
PATTY FERRANT: Everything but...okay, you got an answer: five. What should you do? Make sense of it. What does five mean?
This goes back to the beginning of the year, where they finally have developed belief in themselves. They don’t always have it, but they’ve realized they’ve gotten smarter, and a lot of it is from that pushing in the beginning of the year that you will get smarter in here.
I think it goes back to that belief, like, “Kid, listen to me, trust me, you can do this.” It’s having someone that’s always going to cheer them on and push them to do better than they thought they could do. It doesn’t matter if sometimes I am harder on them and sometimes I can be nice and sweet to them. I can do all of those things, but they know what to expect from me. I just think instilling that in them from day one, they not necessarily believe it right away but at this point in March, they believe me, they get it.
I have that academic language in my head, and I have that expectation of their learning. I think a lot of using the strategies is having them go back and talk to that partner or asking deeper questions, not letting just surface teaching and learning go on. It’s more having that opportunity for them to talk about their strategies and use others to deepen their understanding.