Patriot Update

April 13, 2014

Road Tested...Making a Habit of "How do you know?"

by Jennifer Orr


It is remarkable how, even in 1st grade, students will immediately change an answer if a teacher questions it. It is clear from the looks on their faces that if you are asking for clarification, it must mean that they are wrong, and they scramble to come up with another response.


This is one reason that I ask students to verify, justify, or explain their answers, whether they are right or wrong (even a correct answer does not always reflect an accurate understanding). When a student gives an answer, I usually follow up with, "How do you know that?" or "Can you explain to the class how you figured that out?"


If an answer is not completely correct, an explanation helps me understand a student's thinking and address any misconceptions. It keeps me from assuming that a specific wrong answer means a specific misconception. For example, if a student were to say that 6 minus 4 is 10 rather than 2, I would assume that the student had not paid close attention to the subtraction sign. That is the most likely explanation, but there may be other reasons for the error. When the student explains, I can be certain of the mistake, and by taking more time to think it through, the student may identify the error without my guidance.


After a student gives an explanation, I encourage others to join the conversation with, "I agree (or disagree) because …." Through these conversations, students are often able to share how they arrived at an answer in a way that makes sense to their peers and presents new ideas or skills.


I began this exercise as an assessment to identify what my students needed and what they had mastered. However, like so many things I do as a teacher, I quickly found other gains.


Being wrong does not have the same stigma when the teacher does not immediately praise right answers and condemn wrong ones. My students are much less focused on right and wrong answers as they listen to one another, agree and disagree, and work their way through a question or problem.


Finally, it is often a challenge for students, especially younger students, to explain their thinking. Early in the year, I frequently hear "I just knew it" or "I knew it in my head." Pushing them to think more deeply about their processes and strategies is a struggle, but with repetition, teachers can ease students into the practice. This builds their metacognition, which makes it easier for them to repeat useful strategies or make connections between skills and ideas.


Asking "How do you know?" sounds so simple. In reality, it takes time for teachers to build and for students to become comfortable with this habit. The results, however, are well worth the investment of time

No Giggles...Just Heartstrings

Hit mute (audio is in Thai) and read the subtitles. I think you'll be able to relate...
creative ads touching heartwarming thai life insurance commercial

In the Loop...

PTA Board Nominations will be voted on at the General Body Meeting this Thursday evening. Nominees include:

  • Keli Garrett...President
  • Jenny Glick...1st VP
  • Elizabeth Marsh...2nd VP (Membership)
  • Cyndy Jones...Secretary
  • Nicole Rodieck...Treasurer


Save the Dates...

  • April 29 - Ranger Game
  • May 1 - 2nd Grade Living Museum
  • May 8 - Kinder Orientation
  • May 8 - 4th Grade Play Day
  • May 14 - 4th Grade Field Trip to the Art Museum
  • May 15 - 4th Grade & Oobleck Play Performance
  • May 16 - Patriot Pride Fun Run
  • May 16 - PTA General Body Mtg & Spring Block Party
  • May 23 - Field Day
  • May 28 - GLC Retreat...Incoming and Outgoing GLC's need to secure subs

BPE Drama Team Performs for Community

Upcoming Events

April 14

  • Drama Team, 3:00
  • Deadline for GT testing request

April 15

  • FAME/UIL Art, 3:00
  • Running Club, 3:00

April 16

  • Lisa off-campus at GAM...all day
  • Preschool Patriots, 8:00
  • Drama Team, 3:00

April 17

  • Faculty Meeting, 3:30
  • PTA General Body Meeting & The Critterman, 6:00

April 18

  • Staff Egg Hunt, 3:30

April 21

  • Drama Team

April 22

  • STAAR Testing...Campus Closed to Visitors
  • No Running Club

April 23

  • STAAR Testing...Campus Closed to Visitors
  • Kinder Field Trip to Botanical Gardens
  • Drama Team

April 24

  • STAAR Testing Make Up Day...Campus Closed to Visitors
  • FAME UIL Final Practice

April 25

  • Pride Rally...Fun Run Kick Off
  • Early Release at 12:00
  • Staff Meets in the Library at 1:30
  • Keller Education Foundation Inspiration Gala

April 26

  • Casey's Kids Fun Run
  • FAME UIL Art Competition