This toolkit was created in partnership with PERTS to support educators who are taking action in their classrooms.
Creating a classroom where mistakes are a valued part of learning
Creating a culture in your classroom that values mistakes allows students to see their thought process as a valued part of learning. By allowing students the opportunity to reflect on what they are learning and share wrong answers, you create space for them to see mistakes as common and important, and focus on strategies for improvement. This practice shares a simple practice for making those connections a part of your daily routine when going over student work, and is packed with links to deepen your understanding of the research behind focusing on mistakes.
Focus students on improvement, rather than emphasizing the right answer
Research suggests that feedback from teachers shapes how students learn and how they view themselves as students. Feedback also conveys information about what teachers expect and value in a student. Providing detailed, actionable feedback about students’ work shows students that the teacher cares about their growth over time. Focusing on improvement fosters motivation and engagement, even when work gets tough.
Research also shows that students may benefit from making mistakes (and correcting them) rather than avoiding them, as is common practice in many classrooms (Metcalfe, 2017). However, researchers have observed that few classroom interactions emphasize mistakes as learning opportunities (Tulis, 2013). There is an opportunity to reframe mistake-making in the classroom as a positive and important part of learning.
Inspired to try this practice?
The purpose of this practice is to inspire you to help students see mistakes as an important part of the learning process. The resources in the toolkit provide inspiration and tools you can use to help students value mistakes and focus on strategies for improvement.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect and what you will need as you plan:
- Who should try it? This practice can be easily adapted for K-12 students.
- When you should you try it? This practice can be tried any time during the school year.
- What materials are needed? You will need:
- A recent performance task for each student
- A highlighter marker
- A pen for writing comments
- A projector or other method to share examples with the whole class
- How much time is needed? This practice is estimated to take 40 minutes to complete with students, with a discussion that can be extended if time allows.
If you’re ready to get started, follow the guidelines in our toolkit to learn more!
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