My Favorite No

My Favorite No features the warm-up routine of an eighth-grade math teacher whose school couldn’t afford clickers. Student analyze what’s right and wrong about a classmate’s wrong answer.

Alexander Russo calls it “my kind of flipped classroom.”

About Joanne


  1. I love this. I am always very grateful to the student who gives an wrong that reveals his or her thinking to me. I will be trying this out with grammar, starting on Monday (my grammar day) as we are talking about predicates, gerunds, infinitives, and prepositional phrases. Lots of potential mistakes there!

    • See what happens when I type a comment during the chaos of class turnover? I meant to say that I am grateful to the student who gives an incorrect answer that reveals his or her thinking to me.

  2. This is brilliant teaching and formative assessment. It seems to me that she can get the students to master the learning outcome with the activity and the immediate feedback, coupled with some kind of follow-up.

    If she followed up with an activity that allowed them to process the lesson, demonstrating further mastery, she wouldn’t need the test she mentions at the beginning of the video.

    Other than this, I love all of it.

    Thanks for sharing, Joann. I may cross post on my blog.

  3. Sounds like a great teacher…

  4. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Let me join the chorus of praise for this — it’s quite a good idea, demonstrates errors and how to fix them in a semi-interactive way that gets students invested in the process, and she seems to pull it off well.

    But let me also offer the first little bit of cold water on the little universal love-in we’ve got going here:

    I guarantee that if (and it’s a big if) this isn’t an ability-tracked class that there are four or five kids in that class bored out of their minds, silently wishing that they could claw out their eyes without being suspended for violence, during ‘her favorite no.’

    This is the sort of stuff — without a doubt incredibly useful for working with people who don’t have the concept completely down — that made me want to slit my wrists, made me hate school even more than I did already, and which resulted in my bailing out of high school math and not doing anything past Algebra II until I got to college, where math class once again became THE ZOMG BOMB AWESOMEST THING EVER.

    What’s more, it seems pretty clear from this teacher’s demeanor, phrasing, and intonation that she gives off really strong “Act like you’re paying attention” signals to the students. Personalities like this can be good in the classroom (it takes all kinds, after all), but it means that the students who are dreaming of self-induced optical surgery probably don’t feel free to pick up a book and ignore her.

    So yes, it’s great learning. That’s why her low-achieving students are so engaged. They’re actually learning something useful and doing it in an engaging way.

    But some others might be suffering.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      That is one of the best comments I have ever read. Too often we forget, what is good for some students in some situations is not necessarily good for other students in other situations.

    • My thoughts on watching the video echoed Mr. Lopez. The exercise would be painful unless the class is fairly homogenous. For the kids whose card received a yes, the rest of that exercise would be excruciatingly boring. I wonder if she puts that day’s homework on the board so that the kids who understand the material can put the “My Favorite No” to good use?

    • Michael: It doesn’t look like an ability-tracked class, unless the basic concept that x * x is x-squared was introduced very, very late. (I learned exponents in 5th grade, and didn’t work anything like this problem until 8th-grade Algebra.) Most of the students can tackle a multi-step problem like this with a good chance of success, but (the teacher thinks) some still need to learn how to multiply 2x * 4x. Considering that the student who did this had no trouble in identifying the correct approach and calculating the other three terms, I’m pretty sure it was just a mistake due to hurrying or inattention. (With nearly 45 years of frequently using algebra and higher math in school and on the job, I could still easily make the same mistake – it’s one of two items that my mind flagged for double-checking even as I calculated it.) Either she bored the entire class almost to tears elaborating on a mistake everyone could see at a glance, or she has students grateful that she spent the time on a smart kid’s almost-right work rather than their totally wrong work. I think it’s the latter, and it’s an approach that just might get through to some of the laggards…

      Yes, the kids with the most mathematical ability are bored and learning to hate math. That’s not the fault of the teacher, but the administrators that gave her a class with such mixed abilities. She can’t just write off the bottom quartile…

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        Yes, the kids with the most mathematical ability are bored and learning to hate math. That’s not the fault of the teacher, but the administrators that gave her a class with such mixed abilities. She can’t just write off the bottom quartile…