Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

10.10.13Has Anyone Tried a “Dot Round”?

dot roundHad the pleasure of spending yesterday watching classes in one of our schools with visitors from the Netherlands–four school leaders plus teacher trainer and school adviser Carla van Doornen. They’ve been on a week long visit of Uncommon Schools in three cities. At the end of the day Carla gave me a list of things they’d borrow from the schools they’d seen during their visit and things they’d leave–things they liked and things they didn’t, in short.  But she also gave me a list of things they might add.  One of them was a “Dot Round.”  Loved the idea but hadn’t ever heard of it–which doesn’t mean everyone else doesn’t already know about it–and thought I’d ask if anyone had tried it.

The idea is that you assign students independent work and, as they are working, circulate to observe their work.  If their work is wrong, you put a dot on their paper. Very subtle, not a permanent “wrong” mark, just a reminder that there’s something that needs checking.  And here’s the best part- that’s ALL you do/say.  The idea is that the dot reminds students, subtly, to find their own mistake and, in time, encourages self-reflect and self-correct. You could even then ask students to discuss- who got a dot and found it? who got a dot and didn’t.

Sounds pretty useful. Anyone out there tried it and have advice?

7 Responses to “Has Anyone Tried a “Dot Round”?”

  1. Randi Saulter
    October 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I have coached some teachers through this idea. We have actually scaffolded it a bit in some classrooms. This was done by initially placing the dot in the margin of the line where the error was located, making it easier for the student to locate the mistake. This then got faded to a dot at the top of the page. I can imagine that it could be faded even more slowly by placing the dot at the beginning of a paragraph with an error or at the top of a group of math problems as a step prior to the top of the page.

    • Doug_Lemov
      October 10, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      Thanks, Randi. Super helpful. Like the idea of gradual release… ups the rigor of self-correction over time and with the possible middle steps in that process that you propose. Great comment!

  2. heikemarie
    October 11, 2013 at 12:07 am

    In my guided reading groups when we work on certain types of written response, I do dot round with a follow-up round — it’s a dot the first round, and a circle the second time. It gives them an opportunity, and I like that they still feel accountable. To me, it’s like levels of attention being drawn to the error.

    • Anam Palla
      October 18, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      This is such a good way of encouraging students to take self-responsibility for their learning without feeling overwhelmed thinking about enormity of the task.

      • Doug_Lemov
        October 18, 2013 at 8:53 pm

        so true, right? simplicity makes it doable!

    • Doug_Lemov
      October 18, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      neat addition, thanks. always like tools that build accountability.

  3. Rue Ratray
    April 2, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    I’ve been trying this using green, yellow, and red markers. The colors mean what you’d think. We do it when they’re planning their writing. Once there’s a few yellows and greens, I pause them. The yellows read what was dotted (claim or evidence usually) then the greens do the same. We don’t talk about the difference, but they’ve been doing a good job of figuring out why they have a yellow dot and fixing up their work.

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