Over at TLaC Towers we hold a weekly cutting log meeting (CLM) where we watch video clips of high performing teachers. We use the clips to learn and reflect and also to design workshops and training activities.
At last week’s CLM we screened this clip of Uncommon High School’s Kameelah Rasheed teaching Ancient Civ., and every one of us loved it—the rigor of her questioning and the strength of her high standards jumped off the screen. We knew we wanted to show it in our next Engaging Academics workshop, but we couldn’t decide whether it was an example of Right is Right or Stretch It. Rather than introduce a divisive struggle among the TLaC staff. We figured we’d crowd source the answer.
I asked two of our team members, John Costello and Joaquin Hernandez, to summarize the arguments on each side.
John’s Case for Stretch It:
I tend to think of Right is Right as a technique which helps teachers make sure students have fully met their expectations, and Stretch It as the moment when teachers reward students with a rigorous follow-up question after their expectations have been met. In this clip, I believe the first student fully answered the initial question.
Q: What type of government did they establish, and why?
A: They developed a Republic, so the Romans had some power to choose officials.
Kameelah Rasheed acknowledges that this answer is correct, but doesn’t stop there. She asks for another reason why the Romans would have developed a Republic.
Then, after establishing two different correct answers she dives into the Roman motivation for why they wanted to elect officials and impose term limits in the first place. I see this as a deeper extension of the question she initially framed.
Joaquin’s Case for Right is Right:
In this clip, I think Kameelah Rasheed uses Right is Right because she holds students to a high standard of correctness. Although a student answers her first question correctly (“What type of government did they establish/develop?”), Kameelah follows up because she doesn’t think students are fully answering her second (“why”) question.
Like John, I see Stretch It as a technique that teachers use to reward correct responses with more rigorous follow-up questions. Although Kameelah responds to students’ answers with more questions, she doesn’t ask them new or more rigorous Stretch It questions—she asks them different versions of the same “why” question. When she doesn’t get the response she wants, she probes students to uncover the underlying motivation or most powerful “why” behind the formation of a Republic. Teachers who Stretch It push students to apply what they’ve learned in new ways, but in this case Kameelah helps students recall information they learned for review purposes.
Rather than view her follow-up questions as reward for what she sees as correct responses, I saw them as evidence that:
1. She’s looking for a more “complete” answer: Each student shares just one of the set of correct responses to her “why” question. Kameelah might be following up with students because she’s looking for a complete set of responses to the “why” question. She holds out for all the way right until the class pieces together a complete answer.
2. She’s looking for a specific answer: Even though her students’ responses are technically correct, she sticks with the class and probes further because they aren’t providing the correct answer that she’s looking for. In that sense, their “correct” answers aren’t really correct because they aren’t the best answer to her question.
However you interpret it, I think Kameelah uses Right is Right to probe for a “better” and “more correct” as opposed to rewarding students’ correct answers with novel questions.
So. Who’s right? How do you categorize this clip?
PS This is not a purely academic discussion. At our next Engaging Academics workshop on April 11 and 12… we’re going to show the clip so we want to make sure we get it right. Hope to hear from you now and see you on the 11th.