Saturday, August 22, 2015

My best new trick last year: Errorometer

While sharing pints with a few teachers upstairs at McGinty's, Chris Harbeck took a sip of Guinness, then tossed out a few words that changed my teaching--
"I give out points for anything, a thousand here, a thousand there. They don't mean anything."

Simple. Cheap. Effective.
Print out your errorometer, laminate it, hang an Expo marker next to it--done.

Every time a student gives me a reasonably well thought "wrong" (or even an unusual but "right") response to anything going on in class, even if only tangentially related to the natural world, a student can put a point up on the Errorometer. For every 10 points, everybody in class gets 10 out of 10 points in the Test/Quiz category.

Yep, everybody.
Yep, it diminishes the "value" of points individuals receive on tests.
Yep, everybody's grade gets a boost.

But, as a wise Canadian math teacher told me over a pint (or two) of Guinness, if points mean nothing (and we agreed that was true), then giving them out freely and frequently means nothing as well.

Image PD, quote added by Golda Poretsky.

No points are given for thoughtless answers--and it doesn't take long for the kids to catch on. Doesn't take long before the kids are debating among themselves whether a wrong answer deserves credit. (The fancier pedagogues among us might even call this metacognition.)

(Yes, points are just about meaningless....even the perpetual A students get to like this after a few weeks....)


Sue VanHattum said...

Since they like to just believe the teacher in math, I give them points for catching me in a mistake. The points are called donut points - after a class catches me 30 times, I bring in donuts.

doyle said...

Great idea! I'd be buying a lot of doughnuts.

Sue VanHattum said...

I've been doing it so long, I have no idea who I 'stole' this great idea from. I have bought donuts more than once in a semester for a class. But usually it's just once. So about 5 times a year. Not so much.

p.s. Your robot catcher let me just check a box earlier. This time it made me find all the kayaks in a photo set!

Ben Wildeboer said...

I liked this idea so much, I made a speedometer style Errorometer sheets. Here's a link to them, if anyone's interested.

doyle said...

Love it, Ben--I might steal that.