Helping Students Take Intellectual ​Risks in the Classroom (video)

The teacher in the video showed evidence of inviting students to take intellectual risks. According to the CSDE evidence guide for intellectual risk in the Pre-K classroom, the teacher created an environment where “students are willing to take intellectual risks and are encouraged to respectfully question or challenge ideas presented by the teacher or other students” (CSDE, 2014, p.7). The students in this video were given the challenge to find an object in the classroom that was the perfect size for them, meaning it fit from the bottom to the top of their hand. The teacher did not simply ask if the object was perfect for them, she asked why. While watching the video, a young boy was having trouble explaining how and why he came to the conclusion that the items he chose were the perfect fit for him. The teacher invited the student to take intellectual risks by first asking him specifically how he knew the object was the right size and what he did to figure it out.

At first, the child had trouble answering this question. He answered that he “checked.” The teacher then challenged this by asking him how he checked. She then prompted him to physically show her what he had done and provided him with fill in the blank questions to help him organize his thoughts. For example, she asked the boy “Does it go from where to where?” The student clearly knew that the object was the right size for him, but the teacher helped him use his oral language skills to explain that the block went from the bottom to the top of his hand. The teacher also helped the student compare the size of two objects by asking questions to prompt his thinking. She allowed the student to answer her questions, and even if he was incorrect, she respectfully came up with new questions to help him. The child was put in a comfortable environment where he was not afraid or embarrassed to answer the teacher’s questions even if he was having trouble.

I also noticed something interesting in the beginning of the video. As one of the students was sharing their object, another student asked if the second object was a good fit. The teacher allowed the other student to ask the question and create an enviorment where the students could have a discussion.

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