Students know more than they give themselves credit for. Whenever I ask a question during class that asks them to recall information, the students are only able to remember a few things. Most of the time, the questions I ask are broad enough that there isn’t one right answer nor only one answer. The question I asked today was to come up with twenty different items traded on each trade route in the 1200-1450s.
At first, as a table of four, the students only put four to five items. I walked around getting them to list a few more. Then as a class, we came together and were able to list over forty items. As we started to share as a class, the students kept saying things like, “I know that!.” And they do; however, they freeze when it’s a prompt and more formal. They don’t give themselves the chance. They think their answers are wrong.
One of my responsibilities is to build their confidence. I feel that during the year, they gain the ability to trust themselves in what they can do. I see it year after year, they are intimidated — rightly so — by the AP class. As they navigate the course, most start to release that they know an incredible amount and that they can do it.