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Q&A #7399


Careless mistakes

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From: Jeanne (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Nov 29, 2001 at 14:39:18
Subject: Re: Careless mistakes

Hi Mari,

I think every teacher asks this question. I don't think any of us has an 
answer that works every time. Here is something I started using recently.

I have "Oops!" stickers. Like you, I found it frustrating that my students' 
scores were low due to careless errors. Reminders--gentle and not so gentle, 
practice, comments on papers weren't working, so I made "Oops!" stickers.  
Every time a student lost points due to a careless mistake, I placed an 
"Oops!" on the problem.  

When the tests were returned to the students, we discussed the "Oops!" 
stickers. Some students mentioned they were embarrassed by how many "Oops!" 
they had on their paper. One said, he was glad I didn't have a policy of 
sending the papers home for parent signatures...he'd have some explaining to 
do. (I replied, "Hmmmmm...good idea for next test."  :o) )

I still have students who make "Oops!" errors, but they are fewer in number.  
Now, I make it a point of asking them what they think their grade on a test 
would be without the "Oops!" Some have asked for assistance on how to reduce 
the numbers of "Oops!". Sometimes all they had to do is organize their work 
better or write more neatly. Sometimes it's just reading a problem twice 
before starting. Sometimes its just writing reminders about certain math 
concepts, for example a(b + c) = ab + ac.  (And they circle the ac.)

Note:  I made my "Oops!" on my printer using clear address labels using 
bright pink for the word.  This way the "Oops!" stands out but the sticker 
doesn't hide any of the student work.

I am sure that at some point the stickers will lose their impact. But for now, 
the "Oops!" stickers seem to be working.

I hope this helps.  

 -Jeanne, for the T2T service

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