Anchor Activities during Wrong Answer Analysis


While having a conversation about Wrong Answer Analysis (WAA, discussed here) with a colleague today, I was asked, “What do you do with students who mastered all/most of concepts while you are working with other students?”

This past year, I was in the computer lab one day each week and most of my one-on-one help occured on these days.  Hmmm.

There were a few times I sent the WAA home with students – I learned VERY quickly, this was not very effective.  Those who needed to reflect and analyze the most, rarely completed the assignment on their own and required being assigned to remediation to complete it.

It needs to be during class time in order to provide help when necessary.  This is something that needs to be included as I plan/pace for the upcoming year – a full day for test analysis.  Within this discussion – what do you do with students who have mastered the content – those who only have a couple of items needing reflection/correction?

I’ve heard of teachers who use these kiddos as “tutors” for those who struggle.  Ehh.  Not sure I like that one – too many times students are put in this situation and become frustrated, ending up telling the student what they did wrong and fixing-it for them, but no learning has occurred.  Don’t get me wrong, in a well-thought, planned activity where students share their thinking, I’m all for it.  Even occasionally, but I don’t want to make this practice the norm.

I don’t want to “punish” them and require them to do only meaningless, busy work.  Is it wrong to want to reward them with some type of a “fun” learning activity?  I suppose I should research the idea of having an Anchor Activity List – for those students – give them options.  But I ask myself – does it have to math related?  For example, is it legitimate to allow them to read?  Do Anchor Activities need to be assessed?  Or can they simply be fun activities that require students to think?

I don’t know what’s acceptable?  I haven’t had this conversation before today.  I realize its my classroom, and in the end, the decision is ultimately my choice – but for today, I wish I had a Curriculum Specialist / Administrator who I could set across from, share my ideas and let them ponder my options with me…questioning my reasons for choosing what I choose.

How many options should I post?

Is it possible to have too many?

Do they need to be related either to current or upcoming unit of study?

Or is my initial thought to provide a shelf of resources like these acceptable?

  • Read a book.
  • Who Dun It Puzzles
  • Mind Benders – Deductive Thinking Skills – variety of levels
  • Critical Thinking – Balance Math & More – get variety of levels for different levels of students.
  • Word Roots – not sure which level would be appropriate – definitely something literacy focused
  • ACT/SAT flash cards (for those who are concerned about getting the “perfect” score)
  • 100 vocabulary terms to help you on the ACT/SAT (again, for my sweet little nerds)
  • Balance Benders – Logic & Algebraic Reasoning Puzzles
  • Have an index card file students can choose an interesting math topic to learn about – Pascal’s Triangle, Mathematical Quilts, etc.
  • Games: Set Game, Chess, Peg-Puzzles, Toothpick Challenges, Rush Hour, Acuity
  • Keep copies of Games Magazine on the shelf

I understand in many classrooms that an Anchor Activity is one that students can go to when they have completed their work – but in my classroom, I could count on one hand how often their is down-time in my classroom.  If its not an assessment day – we truly do go bell-to-bell…I’m not lying, ask any of my students!

I will share more as I iron-out the details  the closer we get to the school year beginning!

In the meantime – feel free to share your ideas and insights!  Please share your success stories & what you’ve learned from not-so-successful stories.


Best Practices: Instructional Strategies  Techniques for Anchor Activities

Suggestions – for middle and high school – ranging from ideas for different content areas – to Planning/Implementation/Scoring Guide.  Short, sweet and to the point.

3 responses »

  1. I am in your exact boat. What I did this year is have proficient students search for fun math games online and then add the links to any great games they found to our wiki. I had them search for games on the topic we were covering so they still got practice on the current unit. The kids LOVE their computers, LOVE games, and were so proud that they were helping out. The best part was that it took zero prep and the kids can spend 5 minutes (like after a test if they finish early) or 45 minutes searching for and playing math games. I loved seeing them excited about games they found. They loved showing games they found with their classmates. It worked great!

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