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eduatl180: Anna Sterne 9.28.11

Overheard today as students worked in groups to complete a logic puzzle:

Student A: “This might sound crazy, but maybe Ben and Ken committed all three crimes, and Sven didn’t commit any of them.”

Student B: “No, that doesn’t sound right.”

Student C: “Yeah, I agree with Student B.”

Student A: “But—  Ok.”

So, I have a few thoughts about this exchange.

It strikes me that some of us are too quick to back down from what we instinctively believe to be true.  It took two peers and four seconds for this student to temporarily give up on her line of reasoning.  She got quiet and sat back as her peers worked through the problem.  She was right all along, by the way, and I watched with interest as her group eventually came to the same conclusion that she had so quickly been able to determine. Her lack of persistence and the group’s swift dismissal of a unique idea puzzled me.

My second thought about this exchange is that, often, great ideas begin with the words, “This might sound crazy, but…”  While this activity was just a quick logic “warm-up” for class, Student A reached her solution by thinking creatively and going against the grain of what was expected.  So often, it is this type of thinking that we need most.

This was a nice reminder to me of the importance of remaining open to the contributions of everyone in the group and giving voice to those ideas that might sound crazy.

Anna Sterne (@SterneTeach) is a middle school English teacher at The Lovett School.

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lynnae #

    Nice job, Anna.

    September 28, 2011
  2. Great post! I love it 😉

    September 29, 2011
  3. Donna Knott #

    You are right about us being too easily swayed by those around us, and middle school students, in particular, sway with practically a breath of wind. However, problems like this logic activity are excellent ways to get our students into a problem-solving mode and, hopefully, make them more willing to stand strong for their beliefs. We need all the strong, stand-up people we can get!

    September 29, 2011
  4. Anna,

    “Student A reached her solution by thinking creatively and going against the grain of what was expected. So often, it is this type of thinking that we need most” YES!

    Zac Chase had us thinking a lot last weekend about working with others and encouraging/honoring ideas and voices. I wonder if establishing a practice of appreciative inquiry and using phrases such a “yes, and…” instead of “yeah, but” more often would encourage students to take more risks with their ideas and opinions.

    How might a backchannel (like Today’s Meet) encourage more divergent voices?

    September 29, 2011
    • Anna Sterne #

      Laura,
      I love this idea of changing the language of discussion from “yeah, but” to “yes, and…” Thank you for that!

      September 29, 2011
      • bekah #

        Our school theme this year is “yes, and…”. It definitely does work than ”yes, but… “.

        October 9, 2011

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