Don't Round Up "Almost Right" Answers
Doug Lemov (2010) encourages faculty not to reward students for "not-quite-right" answers. The best teachers, he contends, set high standards and reward only answers that are 100% correct. He urges teachers to avoid affirming partially correct answers before adding their own embellishments to make them fully correct. For example, if a student asserted that Orwell's Politics and the English Language is about political change, the teacher might say, "Right, but it also postulates that accurate, honest language free of clichés promotes the critical thinking that can lead to political change."
Instead of adding their own clarifying details—sometimes implying that the student said them from the get-go—Lemov recommends that teachers tell students something to the effect of "You're almost there" or "Good start, but keep pushing that thought." The best teachers will continue prodding students—or opening the question up to all class members—until they reach rigorous responses. By expecting fully correct answers, he contends, teachers send a message that these answers matter and that the students are capable of reaching them. Premature affirmation shuts down student thinking and subverts scholarly precision.
Lemov, Doug. (2010). Teach Like a Champion. (pp. 35-37). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint
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