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The Teacher Tip

Being Brave with New Strategies

March 14, 2018

Adapted from Thinking Together by Rozlynn Dance & Tessa Kaplan. 

It is not unusual for students to get stuck using one particular strategy. They find a strategy, tool, or model that works for them and begin to use it for every problem-solving task, sometimes even if it doesn’t make sense. Students need to continually expand their strategy bank, learning and developing higher-efficiency, deeper-level strategies. In order to do this, students must feel confident enough to try out new strategies they may not feel comfortable with. As teachers, we must encourage students to be brave with trying new things. 

One way to encourage new strategy use is through precise praise. When a student comes up with a new strategy, uses a new tool, or thinks about something in a different way, make a big deal out of it! Have them share their thinking with the class and openly praise them for their novel idea or for trying something different. Continuing to acknowledge students for this throughout the year allows students to understand that new and different thinking is valued. They will then begin to push themselves to be brave with new strategies. 

To learn more about Thinking Together and download a sample chapter, visit 

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