My Favorite No is a great assessment activity that turns students’ mistakes into collective opportunities for learning. It can be done with any math topic or content. It takes very little time, so teachers can do it often and weave it into the daily routine of their class. I learned about it from a middle school teacher named Leah Alcala through a video in the Teaching Channel video collection.
The premise behind it is simple – students making mistakes is one of the most important tools we have when it comes to helping them learn. We want to expose their mistakes in class, because that is when they can learn something. My Favorite No is a great way to look at student mistakes without shame – it is a empowering thing to tell your class, “This is a really great mistake.”
This video is short – only six minutes – and gives you a good sense of how My Favorite No works.
As you watch the video, here are a few questions to think about:
- What criteria the teacher uses to select her favorite no?
- What are the benefits of talking about mistakes in this way?
- Why does she have the class start with things that are working well in the favorite no?
- What are the benefits of having the students correct the mistake, instead of the teacher doing it herself?
Note: The activity in the video asks students to multiply binomials and/or combine like terms. This is obviously the sort of problem that we would only expect to see in an HSE level class of adult learners, if at all. But My Favorite No can be used with students at any level with whatever math topics your students are working on.
Try it out in your class and let me know how it goes.