Errorless Teaching: Is it worth it?

If you are not in the special education you may wonder what the deal is with errorless activities. What is the point? What are students learning? If you are a special education teacher, then you know they learn a lot from these simple activities. Here are some benefits from having your students do activities that are errorless plus a free download at the end.

1. Learning the mechanics

Before learning new content, we need to give our students a chance to learn how to do certain activities. For example, if you want students to use a circle map to illustrate the main points from a lesson, you want them to already be familiar with what a circle map is and how it works. Having students use a tool with only correct answer choices gives them the foundation they need when faced with unfamiliar or new content. Just think about it. You likely first learned to ride a bike on your driveway or in your neighborhood. It was probably a while before you ventured onto an unknown road or terrain. Riding your bike on a trail successfully only happens when all you have to do is focus on the trail, not how to ride a bike. So, give your students lots of practice using certain tools in a safe and errorless manner before combining them with new or unfamiliar content.

2. Increasing participation

When students feel more confident, they are more likely to participate. In addition, it adds to the discussion and interaction because all the answers they provide will be correct. That gives you so many more opportunities to validate their interaction and reinforce their attempts to participate. Imagine being observed when doing an errorless lesson. It is very likely, no one will pick up on the errorless part and instead, will see equal and active engagement by all the students in the group. A win all around!!

3. Addressing multiple learning levels with the same material

If you have used any of my units on TPT, you know I started about a year ago including errorless and non-errorless options for certain activities. This all came about from a suggestion from a teacher who was using my units. She told me she loved them for her lower level kids, but needed something more challenging for those who were a little more advanced. So, I started adding those options. Now the exact same worksheet can be used for more than one learning level. You can use errorless for those just starting out. You can use the non-errorless version with some color-coding added for more advanced. Finally, you can use the non-errorless version just how it is for those who can truly discriminate right from wrong answers. To see more on color-coding check out these two blog posts:

4. Building confidence

As I stated above, students who are consistently reinforced tend to repeat that target behavior more often. If you provide lots of options for participation and response with the knowledge that the answer will always be correct (at least in the beginning) you are likely to see a faster spike in engagement and learning. Students won’t know the activity is errorless. Most won’t recognize the subtle differences in the worksheets being used by other students in their group. It will feel totally natural to praise and reward students for their participation and you get the added bonus of reinforcing that the answer given was a correct one!

5. Creating review tools

Most of these activities can serve double duty as review tools for an upcoming assessment. Because they were errorless, you know the material they are reviewing is correct. In addition, you know that parents and perhaps other paraprofessionals who may be reviewing the material with the student has the correct information as well. I had one teacher tell me it is great note taking skill. The power of errorless teaching. It is truly worth the effort.

So wondering how to make activities you already have errorless? Click on the link below to download a quick cheat sheet on how to turn various activities into errorless ones quickly and efficiently!

Errorless teaching quick tips (download NO email needed) CLICK HERE

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