Several years ago, I was part of a school that used 4-Sight testing in Math and Reading classes. The 4-Sight was a standardized test that we used several times a year to ~~predict how our students would do on the state test~~ measure student growth. It was standard math multiple choice questions and open ended response questions.

The Math teachers had to grade the students’ open ended responses. I was alarmed at the amount of my students who just wrote IDK in the response area. Really??? You wrote IDK on a test??? You couldn’t at least write “I don’t know”?

Since I had nice, long 90 minute classes, I was able to spend the beginning of each period (bellringer, ATB, Do Now, Warm up, whatever) doing an open ended response question. I taught my students how to pick apart these questions and how to create a response. I taught them how to write *something* for an open response, even if it’s wrong. Even if it’s just restating the given information. Any response is better than “IDK” written across the page.

So this brings me to today. I just read an article from Edudemic on different ways to say “I don’t know”. Huzzah! Someone else out there feels my pain! The author provides different ways for a student to say they are confused in a manner that doesn’t immediately shut down the dialogue. Check it out here. Also included is a nice poster to ~~steal~~ use for inspiration.

P.S. – In case you were wondering, the best ever response from a student was as follows. The question was: “Juan wants to measure the flagpole. Given the information he has, how can Juan solve this problem?” One of *my students* (grumble) wrote “Juan needs to learn to solve his own problems.”

Sigh. Can’t win them all, I suppose.