Helping Students Learn to Strive for Accuracy

Over the past several weekends, I’ve been volunteering my time to help a young couple with a home makeover project.  Bear in mind, I have very little skill in this area, but I’m a willing participant!  On a recent assignment, I was to create a rough opening for a door installation.  I read how to do that, and I watched several master craftsmen on Youtube undertake the task.  When it came time to execute my task, I applied myself with great zeal and completed a rough opening.  Unfortunately, my zeal had overridden my ability to correctly measure at critical intervals (remember, I admittedly have very little skill).  The compounding nature of my errors required additional correction, which added time and labor to the project.  

As I reflected on my experience, I thought about students in classrooms and about how much they needed to develop precision in their work.  I’m not the only one who thought of such things.  In the book Learning and Leading With Habits of Mind: 16 Characteristics for Success, author, researcher, and educator A. L. Costa, identified and addressed a rather substantial list of habits beneficial for students, teachers, and schools.  Striving for accuracy made the list of characteristics.  

How do teachers help students in their classrooms learn to strive for accuracy?  Here are a few tips adapted from those shared by the Lawrence School in Brookline, MA (

  1. Define accuracy.  Talk about precision and correctness.  Make sure it becomes part of the overall dialogue in your daily classroom life. 
  2. Provide visual reminders.  Display positive messages about checking work and promoting excellence. 
  3. Provide examples.  Let students see accurate work.  Let students see masters of craft at work in a variety of disciplines.
  4. Provide opportunities for practice and give quality feedback.  Be overt in your efforts.  Let students know accuracy is important and will be assessed.  

As you prepare for next week, think of ways you can incorporate accuracy-building activities into your practice.  You and your students will be glad you did!

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