Saturday, October 29, 2011

Red Pen Reflection

I have learned many things from Rick Lavoie. One of the most important is to remember that I never struggled in school, so I cannot know how it feels to constantly have my work returned covered with glaring red marks. Recently, when faced with returning just such a math test for corrections, I decided to try something else. I had watched the student accurately complete four math activities online and noticed that he only saw one problem at a time. Thinking that a page of problems might be what was overwhelming him, I wrote each incorrect problem on an index card. The next morning, I asked him to do some math review with the cards, letting him choose the order. He completed them all correctly. It got me to wondering how he would have done on the original test if the problems had been given to him one at a time. Perhaps presentation, rather than content, causes some students' failure to demonstrate their knowledge. Are we setting them up to fail?


  1. Very interesting... I know often when I ask my son to clean up his toys he gets overwhelmed and doesn't want to even begin because it's just too much at once. If I tell him to clean up all the stuffies first and then all the cars etc... he handles it better.

    It makes sense that a page of math problems would be overwhelming! Have you tried giving that student the questions individually to see how the results compare???

  2. Thank you for the comment, Chelsey. My time with that student was temporary. However, I tutor math kids in the summer, and I have started cutting up pages of problems and then holding them like a hand of cards. The student gets to draw one and solve it. The response has been very positive.