But in all likelihood, with any plausible gray area removed (see the box), he will answer. If he doesn’t, it’s a case of defiance that you can address with a consequence and an explanation: “James, you don’t have to get the answers right in my class, but you will be expected to try. I’ll see you here at recess.” how the technique allows you to ensure that all students take responsibility for learning. It establishes a tone of student accountability, and it honors and validates students who do know the answer by allowing them to help their peers in a positive and public way. I also want to underscore that the worst-case examples I’ve given above are fairly anomalous. The tone of No Opt Out in most classrooms astound- ingly positive and academic. Using it empowers you to cause all students to take the first step, no matter how small. It reminds them that you believe in their ability to answer. And it results in students’ hearing themselves succeed and get answers right. This causes them to grow increasingly familiar with success- ful outcome. No Opt Out normalizes this process with the students who need it most NO OPT OUT: CLIP 1 Much of student behavior is opportunistic and undertaken reaction to the gray area, “I can get away with it, so I will.” A far smaller number of students will persist in a behavior once you’ve made it unambiguous what you expect. Fewer still will do so when you’ve shown you’re persistent. This is discussed further in What to Do. In clip 1 on the DVD, Darryl Williams of Brighter Choice Charter School for Boys in Albany, New York, demonstrates No Opt Out twice. In the first instance, he calls on a student to read the word acted. When he isn’t successful, Williams sticks with the boy, providing a cue himself until the student includes the suffix. As Williams notes, the objective for the day’s lesson is to read and understand suffixes, so it’s probably worth taking the time to cue the student as he does. In the second instance, when the student is unable to read the word performance, Williams calls on another student and then returns to the original student: “Read it, Jamel.” In this case, it’s not probably worth the time to break down the error as the decoding skill the student struggles with is less closely related to the day’s objective.
That said, Williams has still firmly established a strong accountability loop. Even more effective might be a firmer iteration of No Opt Out before return- ing to James: â€œTell him again, David. What’s the subject?” And then, â€œLet’s try it again, James. What’s the subject of the sentence?” Or you could repeat the answer yourself: “James, the subject of this sentence is mother. Now you tell me, what’s the subject?” Regardless of which approach you take, the sequence ends with the original student repeating the correct answer: “The subject is mother.” In the case of Charlie, if Devon didn’t answer and tried to mimic Charlie’s impassivity, you might give the answer yourself: “Class, 3 times 8 is 24. Devon, what is it? Good. Now you, Charlie.” In a minute we’ll look at some of the more academically rigorous variations on No Opt Out. But first I want to underscore There are four basic formats of No Opt Out. I’ve provided examples below, with each presented as a variation of the James sequence in Williams’s classroom. What’s consistent across all four cases is that a sequence that begins with the student unable to answer ends with the student giving the right answer. This ensures that everyone comes along on the march to college. â€¢ Format 1: You provide the answer; the student repeats the answer. James: Mother Teacher: Good, James â€¢ Format 3: You provide a cue; your student uses it to find the answer. Teacher: What’s the subject, James? James: Happy. Teacher: James, the subject is mother. Now you tell me. What’s the subject? James: The subject is mother. Teacher: Good, James. The subject is mother. Teacher: What’s the subject, James? Student 1: Happy Teacher: James, when I ask you for the subject, I am asking for who or what the sentence is about. Now, James, see if that can help you find the subject â€¢ Format 2: Another student provides the answer; the initial student repeats the answer. James: Mother. Teacher: Good, James. The subject is mother. Teacher: What’s the subject, James? James: Happy. Teacher: Who can tell James what the subject of the sentence is? Student 2 Mother Teacher: Good. Now you, James. What’s the subject? James: The subject is mother. Teacher: Yes, the subject is mother. â€¢ Format 4: Another student provides a cue; the initial student uses it to find the answer Teacher: What’s the subject, James? James: Happy A variation on this method is to ask the whole class, rather than one individual student, to provide the correct answer (using Call and Response, technique 23 in Chapter Four) and then have the initial student repeat. Teacher: Who can tell James what I am asking for when I ask for the subject? Student 2: You’re asking for who or what the sentence is about. Teacher: Yes, I am asking for who or what the sentence is about. James, what’s the subject Teacher: What’s the subject, James? James: Happy. Teacher: On the count of two, class, tell me what the subject of the sentence is. One, two… James: Mother Teacher: Good, James. The subject is mother. Class: Mother! Teacher: What is it? Class: Mother! I use the word cue here to mean a hint that offers additional useful informa- tion to the student in a way that pushes him or her to follow the correct thinking process. A hint, by contrast, could offer any information. If I ask, “Can anyone give James a hint to help him find the subject?” student might say, “It starts Teacher James. What’s the subject? with the letter m.” This would surely help James guess the answer but doesn’t teach him anything that will help him next time. TECHNIQUE 2 RIGHT IS RIGHT When you ask your students to provide a cue, be sure to provide guidance as to what kind of cue would be useful. Three cues are particularly useful: Right Is Right is about the difference between partially right and all the way right-between pretty good and 100 percent.
The job of the teacher is to set a high standard for correctness: 100 percent. The likelihood is strong that students will stop striving when they hear the word right (or yes or some other proxy), so there’s a real risk to naming as right that which is not truly and completely right. When you sign off and tell a student she is right, she must not be betrayed into thinking she can do something that she cannot . The place where the answer can be found: “Who can tell James where he could find the answer?” The step in the process that’s required at the moment: “Who can tell James what the first thing he should do is?” Another name for the term that’s a problem: “Who can tell James what denominator means?” KEY IDEA . RIGHT IS RIGHT Set and defend a high standard of correctness in your classroom. So how should you go about deciding which type of No Opt Out to use? As a rule of thumb, sequences in which students use cues to answer questions are more rigorous than those in which students merely repeat answers given by others, and sequences in which students do more of the narration and intellectual ww work are generally preferable. At the same time, there’s no way to slow down enough to cue every student in the most rigorous way toward the answer every question that stumps somebody. You’d never get anything else done. And if you do, you risk not only losing your momentum but you allow students to co-opt the lesson by constantly feigning ignorance and cleverly taking you off task. In seeking to balance between providing cues (slow but rigorous) and providing answers (fast but more superficial), you’ll probably find it helpful to go back your obje question you ked is to your lesson objective, the worthier of a slower and more cognitively rigorous No Opt Out it probably is. If it’s a peripheral topic, speed through by taking the right answer quickly from a peer, asking for a repeat of it by the original student, and moving on No matter what balance you strike, students in your classroom should come to expect that when they say they can’t answer or when they answer incorrectly, there is a strong likelihood that they will conclude their interaction by demonstrating their responsibility and ability to identify the right answer. Many teachers respond to almost-correct answers their students give in class by rounding up. That is they’ll affirm the student’s answer and repeat it, adding some detail of their own to make it fully correct even though the student didn’t provide (and may not recognize) the differentiating factor. Imagine a student who’s asked at the beginning of Romeo and Juliet how the Capulets and Mon- tagues get along. “They don’t like each other,” the student might say, in an answer that most teachers would, I hope, want some elaboration on before they called it full rect. “Right,” the teacher mig reply don’t like each other, and have been feuding for generations.” But of course the student hadn’t included the additional detail. That’s the “rounding up.”
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