Skip to main content


Once you have taught your students how to sit beside one another, point to their work and explain to their partner what they did to solve, and how to coach their partner with specific feedback (see  Ways To Coach Your Partner Post), you may find that you will need to generate pose a mini-lesson on how to provide feedback when our partners make mistakes.


Making mistakes is a natural part of learning. Making mistakes allows us to see what works and what doesn’t work and the reasons why. Often, people want to avoid looking at their mistakes but if we ignore them how will we learn from them, they are natural! Analyzing and discussing mistakes creates a community that honors students thinking and allows everyone to grow. Yet, even though we all make mistakes, when we do have the opportunity to analyze them we want to do so in a kind non-threatening way. If we humiliate students (unknowingly) by pointing out their mistakes, we may prevent many more students from trying new things and sharing their work in the future.


We can make the discussion of mistakes safe if we teach our kids how to do so. This mini-lesson is designed to show you and your class how to provide honest feedback to one another when we make mistakes and propel our thinking forward.


For this Teaching One Moore Monday, the mini-lesson is “Mathematicians help their Partners Analyze and Revise Their Mistakes.”


Teacher says, “Sometimes when we are working on new and challenging problems we may make mistakes or get stuck in figuring out what we do next. This is a natural thing that happens to all mathematicians. Fortunately, we are a community of learners and we can support one another by analyzing one another’s work and giving ideas and suggestions on how to revise our mistakes. Today, I want you to watch me as I analyze this student’s work and figure out what is going well and how to support them in revising their work.”


The teacher displays a student’s work anonymously. The teacher points to the work and thinks aloud and says,” I notice that this student did a nice job of _________, but I’m wondering about __________.”


Teacher says, “Class did you see how I analyzed the work very carefully and noticed something that they did well. Then, when I noticed something that was incorrect, I did say, “oh no, that’s wrong.” Instead, I noticed what they did well then I wondered about the answer they decided to right.” This is a kind and positive way to help our fellow mathematicians.


Now let’s try one together. Find a student’s work that has an obvious error in it. Display it for the whole class to see (cover up the name). Ask the kids to analyze the work carefully. Say, “ Without talking just stop and silently analyze this student’s work carefully for something that they did well, then look for something they could improve.” After a few minutes of silently analyzing, point to one of the sentence frames (introduce 1-3 at a time) and ask the students to try one out.


The students can say,

“I noticed that you _____________, can you tell me more about that?”

“I understand why you ________, but I’m wondering about _________.”

“Explain to me why you decided to _________.”

“Explain how your _____________ matches the problem.”

“What is another strategy you can use to verify your answer?”

“What caused you to __________?”

“I think you _____________, when you were supposed to ____________.”

“Do you want to revise your____________?”


After a few minutes ask them to turn and talk to their floor/seat partner and explain how they will support this student by using one of the sentence frames. Once they are done explaining their work to a partner, ask 1 or 3 students to share their feedback with the whole class.



Teacher says, “By providing kind and corrective support we can help our partners understand that it is okay to make mistakes. Together we can figure out solutions and revise our work and that makes us all better mathematicians. Today, after you finish solving your problem, sit next to your partner, and analyze each other’s work carefully to see if they need to make any revisions. If they do, make sure you use one of these sentence frames to support your partner.”


Steps for Supporting Your Partner When they Make Mistakes:


1.) Sit side by side with your partner, so that you can both look at one another’s work clearly.

2.) Partner 1 put your work in the middle. Partner 2, put your work to the side so that you are not distracted by it.

3.) Partner 1 point to your work and clearly explain what you did step-by-step.

Partner 2 keep your eyes on their paper and be ready to give them a compliment, or ask them a question about their work when they are done.

4.) Partner 1 say, “ Do you have anything to say about my work?”

5.) Partner 2, “ Point to partner 1’s work and say something about their work.

6.) Partner 1 revise your work if you need to.

7.) Partner 2 put your work in the middle and point and explain what you did to solve.

8) Partner 1 analyze their work carefully and be ready to say something about their work.