Moving A Defeat Into a Learning Opportunity

My College Readiness students did pretty poorly on their review test--topics from Algebra 2 that were supposed to be review. I am not proud to say this. I do believe I play a definitive role in their mediocre showing.  AND I saw them doing the problems in class! They were being so smart!
I was not expecting them to mix up exponents in simplifying radicals, I did not expect them to forget how to rationalize denominators, I did not expect them to refuse to enter

I did not expect them to thoroughly forget what we had practiced.

I just don't think their hearts were into it. I tried not to take it personally.

Here's what I did to try to turn this defeat into a learning opportunity:

I started by telling the students the truth: every single student put something intelligent on their paper. I was really impressed by that. Then I shared my favorite no:

Question 1: What is the same? What is different? Give at least five examples all together: (yes we practiced in class prior to the test!)


Student Responses: (x - 5) in the second one has an exponent and the first one doesn't. 

Next we talked about the nuances of academic vocabulary verses what is written. I used:

What is the same? What is different? Give at least five examples all together:

         terrible                       fabulous

After some low bar characteristics: they both have l's, they both have vowels for the second letter:
the students went deeper: both have 3 syllables, both are adjectives, both have eight letters,  they have different meanings 

I applauded them for using academic vocabulary and asked them what could they say instead for the polynomial function. 

I then showed them a list of possible mistakes: (Thanks Tina Cardone)

Next I handed back the tests and gave them a template for considering their work with all the topics we covered (same list I gave in the review sesh) Thank you Krystal Mills (Lessons From The Middle)
I did a complete test with them.

We looked at each problem and the topic for one student. Next they will look at the type of error they made and correct the problems they missed. I am giving the students an entire week to do the corrections because I want them to have time to access me, the web, and each other. I am hoping they will engage and learn.

I will do an exit survey and let you know if they did! 

How do you turn mistakes into learning opportunities?

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