Day 16: The Mistake Game

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Today was my 2nd attempt at the mistake game. The above picture is from a group who is not yet finished presenting and made a mistake when prompted to fix their mistake, I believe on purpose. So far I like that the mistake game takes the pressure off the group presenting; however there are two things I am not so sure of. First of all, I don’t like the extra time it takes for students to first figure out a purposeful mistake to add and then for the audience to ask the right questions to flesh out that mistake. Secondly, right now I have noticed two distinct student types; those that already understand the questions and are annoyed at the questioning process because of that, and those who don’t understand and actually make mistakes with their questions. I am worried that I am furthering the divide between these groups as it becomes apparent who is in each camp.

I think that I am going to try to do the next worksheet without the mistake game to get some perspective on which way is best for my current situation.

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8 Comments on “Day 16: The Mistake Game”

  1. bwhitcom says:

    I like the idea of not playing the mistake game on every single worksheet. Could there also be a middle ground where secretly ask 2-3 groups to make a meaningful mistake then let the class know that there are definitely some mistakes out there, but not on every board? Glad to know that I should be on the lookout.

    • danlonghurst says:

      I do this often, asking some groups to make mistakes but not others. When I play the mistake game, I have them do it correctly first, I check, then they put in their mistake. And rather than a presentation, they do a gallery walk and write down the mistakes from each board on a sheet that I use as an exit ticket. The part I still struggle with is after that – what to do? Just point them out? I’m gonna try having the group that made the mistake ‘present’ by editing their board in front of the class to fix the mistake. We’ll see how that works.

      • Kelly O'Shea says:

        This is an interesting whiteboarding mode, but I think quite different from how I think of the mistake game. The most essential part for me is the discussion rather than the mistakes.

        I wonder if you could make some sort of hybrid mode that started with a gallery walk which involved students voting on the two or three whiteboards they would like to discuss the next day (or later that day, just depending on timing, I guess). The next day, the winning boards could present to the class by talking through their solutions and taking questions until a consensus was reached.

        I would also eliminate the step of checking for correct solutions first to make the discussion even more authentic.

        What do you think? I don’t know about your students/classes, so I’m not sure whether that would all make sense for your situation.

      • danlonghurst says:

        I’ll give your suggestions a shot. The checking-the-correct solution is because sometimes they would do a problem completely butchered, and then put yet another mistake into it. It becomes almost useless. But, If they “voted” on which ones to discuss, then that one could get nixed. Or students would be so confused by it that they would want to clarify it. I guess I could hold veto power. Thanks for the ideas!

      • bwhitcom says:

        I didn’t see this till now, but I’ll definitely use this as a jumping off point for improving how we implement the “game”

  2. Kelly O'Shea says:

    Hmm. I don’t find that it takes any extra time from regular old whiteboarding. Are groups “playing dumb” and not admitting to their mistakes? I don’t let them do that, but if you do, it will take forever for sure.

    Also, by practicing the art of asking really good questions on the early, easy problems, it prepares them for asking good questions when no one is sure of the right answer (like early in the balanced forces unit).

    Do you think the students who are struggling will be as engaged if most of their peers are only presenting perfect answers? Will they just copy them down? Will they ask good questions and move their understanding forward?

    • Your last couple of questions are good ones, Kelly. I think I need to try WBing without the mistake game, just because right now I don’t have anything to compare to. Then I can make a more informed judgment on which route I want to take. Also good point about asking good questions now…they are in fact improving on that aspect already, which is encouraging.

      • Kelly O'Shea says:

        Doing a comparison is a good idea.

        I think, overall, if you have students who are struggling, then spending a couple minutes extra per board asking questions to fix mistakes saves more time in the long run, even if going through presentations of correct answers seems more efficient at first.


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