Sunday, September 13, 2015

4th Graders Reaching Out for Change

Three weeks into a new school year, fifteen world-changing and dedicated fourth-grade students used their voices to write letters and a petition to convince Coca-Cola to run affirmations on their products rather than names and seemingly frivolously labels.  Please help us reach the Coca-Cola company by signing our petition and sharing it on social media.  We want everyone who walks down the soda aisles, purchases Coca-Cola products, or stands in line at a store to see messages of hope and self-worth.  It is amazing what can happen when people consciously or subconsciously take in affirmations daily.  It truly can change the world.

Please go to our Petition  and help us change the world!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ten-Year-Old Genius Needs His Voice Heard

This writer comes from meager means and his hope and belief in possible is weak.  He doesn't see his genius.  I have worked hard this year to give him choices to discover his own voice.  Now, I need your help convincing this kid to get in front of the camera, deliver his TED-ed Club speech, and help it go viral…when you read it you will understand. I have been going back and forth with this boy all year. Convincing him that he has tremendous gifts and so much to tell the world has been extremely challenging. He has a lot of walls. But through patience and love and celebrating and tears, we've come to a place of trust and mutual admiration. Remember, this is a 10-year-old boy who doesn't have much of the support in his life to give him the idea that he may actually be one to change the world for the better. So, with his permission, I am posting his work here. Please take the time to read it, share it, convince others to do the same. I want SOMEONE SOMEWHERE to get in touch with this brilliant mind of his and convince him that writing, singer/song writing is in his future….and it can truly change the world. If you or someone you know is willing to give this genius boy a chance…please send them my contact info. PS the 2 poems are not research…they are his own creative genius, and this was his response to the Martin, Brown, and Garner cases.

Racial Injustice
by: D. C.
TED-ed Club Speech
Once Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Now Martin Luther King, Jr. is dead. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t just have his famous dream…he had a vision. In 1963, he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech for equal rights and freedoms for all Americans, especially for black Americans. That was fifty-two years ago. Our country has fought wars over civil rights, passed laws for civil rights, and has had many people influence and inspire people to support civil rights. And yet, in 2015, we are still struggling to have peace and civil rights for all.
Have you seen the news lately? Young African American boys are being gunned down at alarming rates. As a young boy this is the reality I wake up to everyday. I worry about being criticized for my skin color. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have a dream that one day people will NOT be judged by the color of their skin but by the contents of their character.”
Historically, there are more black males in prisons than whites. More police involved shootings with black suspects. According to CNN, young black boys ages 15-19 are killed by police-involved shootings at a rate of 30 to 1 compared to whites of the same age group.
Underestimated boys
Thrown around like discarded toys.
While the rest are being spoiled,
WE are being foiled.
Not understood while they are over stood.
We are just trying to be the Little Engine that Could.
Forever forgotten (pause)
When I’m rappin’ I’m not stoppin’
But when I make it, they’ll quickly awaken
Act so afraid
But every second I’m brave.
Someone, please come save us from this grave.
Real story, so people give us joy,
While our lives are being destroyed.
Einstein educated? Not so much.
But I’m trying to keep on rollin’
As our lives is being stolen.
Martin Luther King also said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people.”
I am speaking out because maybe my twelve-year-old voice will be heard. I write, I rap, I speak, I beg, I cry, I plead for my voice, Martin Luther’s voice, Rosa Parks’s voice, Harriet Tubman’s voice, Frederick Douglass’s voice, our collective voices to finally be heard.
Most recently, the news reports of Eric Garner, Treyvon Martin, Michael Brown have brought civil rights and racial inequality to light again. The concern is that in all of these situations, there were really no full videos of the situations. No real definitive evidence as to what actually happened. So I am proposing a new bill. I propose that a camera that has the ability to send a 360 degree view of all surroundings be installed on the top of all police cars. Uniform cameras have been considered, but they are just as limited as dashcam videos. So I propose mounting a camera on the barrel of the officer’s gun. That way the video shows exactly where the bullet was shot and the scene just before the gun was used.
In spite of the history, and the fact that we are still unwilling or unable to work as a country to educate, protect, and help build our African American communities both economically and restore their trust, we still must remain hopeful. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Martin Luther’s voice swirls in my mind. Infinite hope.
Racism is still happening today
That’s a shame
Martin Luther King
Settled that straight.
Through my eyes all I see is
My faith has died inside
Cases are messes
my anger possesses
The lies the bind
(with a laugh and shaking your head) what destruction you find
in the blind mind
They started stranglin’
(He can’t breathe)
(I can’t breathe)
we (pause) can’t breathe)
Dude was slangin’
It ain’t like he was gang bangin’
He was just tryin’ to get some change.
(What is done can’t be changed)
(Now his family’s lives are forever changed)
(We need a different change)
(You say, “Try to be the change?”)
(Maybe he WAS the change)
They just claim self-defense
But it is we who need defendin’
They walk away shameless
As we get put away infamous
put in the books and wait
And wait.
We stand and wait, and can’t help but hate
What America has come to today.
We just go away
But, as Martin Luther King said, “In the end we will remember NOT the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
I am silent no more. But I choose love. “Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

And here is another one:
Harriet Tubman
by D. C.
Harriet Tubman was trapped in chains
Waiting patiently to be saved
But after years of unending darkness
she realized that there was no being saved.
She had to be her own hero.
Slavery is a black box filled with
loneliness and disappointment.
But Harriet was hopeful.
Day in and day out, she thought
How unfair to be mistreated and beaten;
the objects and whips tearing flesh.
But she found a way to break through the black box
by biting back the calloused hand that fed and beat her.
Her light piercing through the cracks in the box
chiseling away the weak spots that come from hands
too numb from the loss of feeling and death.
Her light danced and swirled with sunrays
as she watched the box crumbled around her scarred feet.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reflecting on Ferguson

If we're destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there's got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.

---Ellen DeGeneres

As I reflect on the tragic circumstances surrounding Ferguson, MI I can't help but think of how I, a 5th grader teacher, can make a positive impact.  Thinking of how some of the citizens reacted to the decision not to indict the officer in question left many of us speechless.  But really, how would we expect them to behave?  This is a community with limited resources and par to sub par educational experiences.  What have they been taught?  They see our government react with violence, they see talk shows that glorify fighting on the stage, they hear lyrics of songs that celebrate violence.  They have learned, like many others have, that if you don't like what someone else does, fight.  Talking gets you nowhere.  

So I have to ask myself, how am I contributing to this mentality or am I teaching an alternative mentality?  I teach at a Title 1 school and many of my students have expressed frustration with their peers and teachers and life circumstances with anger and threats of violence.  I believe it is simply because they know of no other way to have their voices heard and their feeling validated.  
This situation in Ferguson is an opportunity for educators everywhere to inject compassion-based, service-based, empathy projects into their classroom and on their campuses.  We must teach our students how to be the hope in the hopeless, the help in the helpless.  We must teach them alternative ways of expressing their frustrations, how to be part of the solution.  
What I have listened to all day, the day after the violence and looting ensued after the decision was announced, is a lot of complaining, fear, condemnation, and blaming.  However, not once have I heard anyone show compassion, validate the feelings of ALL of the citizens, or offer a solution.  So I am offering a solution.  
Have your students learn to communicate their feelings and frustrations calmly and with assertiveness.  Teach them HOW to speak in a way that grabs the listener's attention without being threatening.  Teach your students to LISTEN with empathy; to hear with their hearts and put their own anger aside enough to truly listen.  We must teach them to negotiate, compromise, and problem solve by considering all angles of the problem.  
With absolutely no judgment on either side of this tragic situation, I simply feel compassion for all parties.  The police officer is human and we all make mistakes.  Whether this was his mistake or not is not for me to judge.  He took a child's life.  The judgment he will certainly face is far greater than anything I might say.  And what I could say would serve no purpose. Michael Brown lost his life.  Regardless of his actions, it is not my place to judge him either.  His family is suffering the greatest loss possible.  Blaming him serves no purpose.  The citizens who are peacefully protesting are making a point, but could there be a better solution?  That would be a conversation necessary to have.  As for the looters and violent citizens, I am in no place to judge them either.  They are filled with fear, resentment, anger, feelings of betrayal, and feel hopeless and helpless.

As an educator, I commit to contribute to the solution by modeling, encouraging, and TEACHING empathy and compassion with communication and listening skills.  All of us MATTER.  It is time we start cultivating a fearlessness within ourselves to set our egos aside and to come together with mutual respect and empathy to solve these problems.  My hope is that uniting together as educators, we can change the world one heart at a time.   

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.-- Dalai Lama

Monday, November 10, 2014

Don't Give Up. STEP UP!

To my 5th grade students,
I always tell you that in the Fearless Classroom you won’t fall.  That we have each other’s backs and that we will succeed together no matter what.  I tell you that I don’t worry about the learning that takes place in our classroom because I know the level to I teach.  But that isn’t exact 100% true.  Truth is I am very worried.  Truth is we are not being as successful as we could be.
I always tell you that when you want to confront something you need to look at it from all angles.  You need to approach a problem with a solution or a bunch of solutions.  Complaints don’t fix anything.  Words without action are meaningless. I need to share with you how I feel about teaching and then I can tell you why I worry so much about you.
As an educator, I am torn between wanting to educate children to be thinkers, explorers, and curious souls, and covering the curriculum.  Being fearless means taking a leap of faith, a well-calculated risk, that the curriculum is secondary to the education I will be providing.  It is believing that I, the teacher, am actually the weakest source of information I could give to my students, but the most powerful of idea-generators, question-posers, genius-cultivators, and that, in fact, it is YOU, the students, who are capable of learning without me.  I must allow failure to always be an option in our classroom. I must commit to fail, disappoint, and make mistakes eagerly.  
I must fail to stop learning, fail to settle for less than my own best or yours, fail to be satisfied with our work.  I must disappoint you when you think that I will back down when you fight against your best and against the opportunities you are given in my class.  And I MUST make mistakes.  Make them front of you and let you engage in solutions with me.  It is a necessary tool in learning to struggle through a challenge in order to find authentic learning. 
I believe this so fully.  And this is why I am so afraid for you.  I care about you more than you realize and more than you probably care about yourselves.  It never has been and never will be about what you do or accomplish in my classroom.  I am not in this career, I don’t come to school excited everyday because I think something I say or do will suddenly morph you into a student who for the rest of his or her life will embrace every piece of information as if it were the last most delicious morsel of food every eaten.  But I do care about the kind of people you will be when you leave me.  I remind you daily that you matter.  What I mean is that you matter in a way that no book or website or poem or math problem could ever matter.  You matter more than any test score or grade or academic achievement.   It is because you matter so much to me and to this world that I must tell you that I can no longer sit by quietly and watch what isn’t happening to you.
Don’t get me wrong.  It is vital to your future that you learn the reading passages and poems and fractions and science experiments and historical events.  Knowledge is power and you can’t go anywhere in life without knowledge.  But you don’t need me for that.  You have resources available to you right now at the press of a button that will give you all of that information.  You’re not coming to my class solely for information.  I can see why you would not care to attend regularly or not understand what the point is if you are thinking that this is all you are expected to gain.
You come to my class to learn something so much more important.  Something that you cannot learn on the internet or from an app or from a book even.  You come to learn your impact in this world.  Your place of importance.  Your ability to have influence.  You are here to be as much of a teacher as a student and to figure out who you are and can be. 
So I ask you this.  How do you approach problems?  I mean what happens when you forget your lunch in the car?  What happens when you can’t find a paper that is due?  How do you react when a friend tells a lie about you or betrays your trust?  How do you react when you tell the truth about something and no one believes you?  How do you react when what we do in here gets tough?  Really tough?  When you have no idea what to do next or how to even begin?  Who are you then?
You see, my dear students, THIS is what you come to this classroom to learn.  You must learn who you are and who you can be in order to negotiate these moments wisely, fairly, and maturely.  It is about growing up a little and seeing struggle as a gift, as a chance to grow and become greater than you think.  It is a chance to impact others and your own life in a positive way.  Because you need to know that life will go on after 5th grade and all of the thing you think are horrible will not matter in a year or 5.  The girl or boy who has your heart now will not have a name in your memory by college.  Even the lost opportunities to try and give some extra effort that you brush off because you don’t feel like it or think it isn’t important will hold no worth in your memories as the years go forth.  But life is a rollercoaster of ups and downs and it is in those downs that these experiences will either ease your anxiety or strike fear in your heart.
In my lifetime I have loved and lost, seen friends and loved ones die, I have had bad things said about me and I have not been believed.  I have given up when things got tough and I have quit trying a far too many things.  And the one thing I wish I had learned in school was how to tackle life when life roars at me.   
Being fearless is about embracing changes and challenges as steppingstones to success.  It is about not backing down but facing them head on with the determination and tenacity needed to come out having given your all to persevering through.  THIS is what being fearless is all about and what is going to be your legacy.  This is your preparation for life after school, far more than the content we discuss
I don’t want to see you give up in these moments.  You matter in this world and the world needs your contribution.  Without your contribution this world won’t be as effective, compassionate, connected, or beautiful.  That is quite the responsibility to take on, isn’t it?  But man, are you worth it.  Man, are you capable of that and so much more!
Don’t give up when it gets too difficult in class.  Step up, rather, and do it.  Do the task.  It doesn’t matter if you get it correct.  That will come.  But don’t give up on what you COULD do by allowing your doubt to stop you.   Don’t give up on that person you can be who doesn’t back down from a challenge.  This is YOUR education and YOUR intelligence that is in YOUR hands.  I can give you the task and the information, but it is up to you what you do with it.  Don’t give up, STEP up for yourself, your education, and your own intelligence.
Don’t give up by leaving class when things get tough or boring.  Don’t use the bathroom as an excuse to avoid challenges.  STEP UP.  Step up to drown out the voice in your head telling you that you can’t or shouldn’t have to try this.  You have the PRIVLEDGE of going to school without worry and without limitations.  So many have been denied this privilege and some have even been hurt and killed trying to just have a chance to learn.  Don’t give up on this opportunity.  STEP UP and embrace it.  STEP UP and honor it with your fullest effort to attend and try and fail and try again.  It isn’t about just showing up.  It’s about being present.  It’s a gift to learn in this country. 
Don’t give up by using defense tactics like sarcasm, back talk, and disrespect.  We ask you to walk quietly in the hallway to honor the learning of others.  It isn’t about compliance.  Whether you listen to us or not isn’t the point.  It is about stepping up for each other.  It is about stepping up so that our campus can honor the privilege of learning.  It is so you can step up and once again be the person who can be counted on to honor others respectfully and maturely.
Be the hope you want to see.  Be the change you deserve.  Be the person you and only you know you can be.  Be YOUR own hero.  If you allow doubt or mood or negative attitudes to stop you, you’re giving up.  You’ve lost.  You’re quitting and giving in to being powerless and voiceless later.  And no one who ever gave up ever did anything worth mentioning.  YOU matter more than giving up on.    
So here is my commitment to you as we move forward in this year.  As long as you are in my classroom and beyond that even, as long as you are part of my life, I refuse to give up on you or to allow you to give up on yourself.  My job is to give you the chance to be determined, courageous, tenacious, and respectful.  My job is to create opportunities for you to step up.  These opportunities may be difficult, they may angry you.  They may challenge you beyond your comfort zone.  They may scare you and make you feel incapable.  That is until you don’t.  Because you stepped up. You didn’t make excuses, you didn’t back down, you didn’t give up.  You stared the challenge straight in the eye and stepped up!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Trending What Matters

After hearing about the "Alex from Target" phenomenon, I had a conflicted reaction of moral duality.  On one hand, it demonstrated the power of social media.  Imagine that 250,000+ people in this world now know of this one kid from Texas simply because one girl thought he was attractive enough to post a photo of him on social media.  Having anything go "viral" is a demonstration in the sheer power of what the right tweet through the right channels can have on something.  But unfortunately, often the viral effect happens to damaging and humiliating events.  The case of Alex simply exemplifies our society's relentless obsession with looks.  I began to wonder what message was being sent to our young people, particularly our girls.  Will this "Alex from Target" effect perpetuate the selfie epidemic in our girls?  Will they amp up their obsessive display of self-objectifying photos just to have others build their egos so that they feel adequate and important?  What are we celebrating?  What are we encouraging?

As an educator, it is my obligation to use current events, particularly ones that impact my students directly, to, in the very least, get them to thinking and examining these events more critically.  They can draw their own conclusions, but I want them having deep and meaningful conversations about it.

I brought this topic to my 5th graders.

We talked about harnessing the power of social media for something more meaningful than selfies and viral photos and videos.  We discussed what makes a person beautiful and how beauty comes in all forms and all manifestations.  We listed humor, compassion, kindness, talent, effort, sacrifice and faith as ways beauty can be displayed.  I was inspired to hear that they really tried to stray away from physical beauty.  But there IS a need to discuss the positives of celebrating your most beautiful self too. We need to recognize and celebrate the beautiful parts of us.

And so the "OUR Beauty Project" began.

We have been learning about poetry and today's form was a diamante.  The topic was about defining beauty.  They were charged with creating a diamante about beauty and giving me a statement about what they find most attractive about themselves and why.  Then I asked them to respond to how they would capitalize on the sudden exposure to fame and 250,000+ followers to change the world.  Here are the results of this exercise.


"Popularity shouldn't be based on your looks.  It is your character, honesty, respect for yourself and others, and compassion that matter and make you important."


"Beauty is perfectly imperfect."
hidden, masked
veiling, misleading, changing
a million bucks can't buy a heart of gold
inspiring, world-changing, creating
natural simple

I would encourage people to step away from their phones, stop texting and taking selfies, and trying to impress social media with your looks and do something to make the world better.  


"My eyes are beautiful not because they are a pretty blue but because they see truth."

Outside beauty
altered, deceitful
fibbing, improving, covering 
Your truth lies inside of you
charming, shining, sharing
real, individual
inner beauty

gorgeous, lovely
sparkling, glowing, charming
grace is beneath the skin
hiding, disgusting, hating
unattractive, deceptive

"I would tell my followers, 'YOU are important! Share this.'"
negative, impure
repelling, distrusting, changing
the cup is half full
charming, loving, laughing
positivity, graceful

"I would tell them to follow their true self and live life."
Outer Beauty
untrustworthy, cruel
self-loving, faking, deceiving
true beauty is true to yourself
caring, loving, sharing
unselfish, good 
inner beauty

"Cherish this one day.  This is the day God has given you.  Start a viral revolution!  Befriend someone unpopular at school and start lifting them up."

"My smile changes the world because it is how happiness populates."

outer beauty
pretty fake
hiding, faking, worrying
you don't need validation
caring, loving, helping
kind-hearted loving
inner beauty

"My ears are beautiful because they hear the truth in people."

pseudo, phony
veiling, suppressing, cloaking
fake is a break
shining amazing alluring
exquisiteness glamour

possessive, gorgeous
boasting, bragging, gloating
it's the inside beauty that counts
caring, admiring, respecting
cheerful, compassionate

fake, outer
lying, hiding, trying
wolf in sheep's clothing
impacting, expressing, seeing
true, inside

Chris M.:
cruel, spoiled
bullying, stunning, hurting
don't judge a book by its cover
caring, listening, loving
thoughtful, genius

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Stop Setting Goals with Your Students

Start Setting Intentions

"Don't do anything unless you INTEND to do it. "--Oprah Winfrey

For the longest I can remember as an educator, setting goals has been something that we do as a way to not only track student progress, but to give them ownership of their own educational progress.  What we hope happens when setting goals with kids is that they will focus on something attainable and strive to achieve it.  Some do, some don't.  There never seemed to be a real draw or significant result from setting goals.  I even tried having students set their own goals each week and define how they would achieve them.  Still, nothing significant.  Sure they were aware of their academic status, where they needed to go and where they needed to be.  But why didn't this act of setting goals work like we all hoped it would?  I don't have the answer, but I think I have an alternative that might elicit a better result.  

Our classrooms are in service of our students' stories.  Think about that.  Their stories matter.  As humans, we often become what we believe.  Our students become what we help them believe.  If we want them to rise to meet the life and success we want for them and that they deserve, we must change our focus and beliefs.  Setting goals fundamentally has a flawed perspective.  We focus on our deficits, figure out a limited place of achievement, set our sights on that place, and work to get there.  We begin with a deficit viewpoint.  

So what if we stop setting goals and start setting intentions?  Webster's Dictionary defines intention as a having a course or action as one's purpose or objective.  The course of action becomes their purpose.  If students focused their minds everyday on their intention to learn something, achieve something…if they name it, see it, feel that success…would they achieve at higher rates?  We shall see.  It is certainly worth making reflection questions and our classroom content objective our intentions each day.  Ask your students, "What do you intend to learn today?"  

When we think about the way things tend to be however we perceive them to be…you may have seen the quote about change your attitude, change your life?…well, what if our educational system, our states, our districts, our campuses, our classrooms, our teacher's lounges, our PTOs, our communities all perceive our student outcome success or failure as a reflection of our intention?  How might our attitudes about student work, objectives, lesson planning, etc. change?  If it isn't what we want, we MUST change our intention.  

As an educator, I must reflect honestly about what my intentions are when I write plans, give assessments, give feedback, communicate data.  Is my intention to comply with campus and administrative expectations?  Is my intention to one up a colleague?  Is my intention to keep my students busy and quiet?  Or is my intention to give them the most unforgettable learning experience I can offer them?  Is my intention to create the opportunities for my students to discover their own potential, to experience new learning, to make connections and delve deeper into content?  

It is our responsibility to check our intentions daily…in everything we do.  Without our intentions being focused on the positive potential in our classroom and within our students, we are setting up a reachable goal of the same old same old.  But why wouldn't we, along with our students, want to rise to our greatest potential?  

Excellence is the best deterrent of negative "stuff" so…be excellent!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fearless Gamification = Creative Collaboration!

 "Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success." - Henry Ford

When students walk into a classroom feeling less than confident and capable about their academic abilities, one MUST consider why.  What has happened in their lives as students that has created such cynicism?  As an educator myself, I do not believe there is one answer that can adequately bring clarity.  However, ALL answers are PART of the truth.  Perhaps assumptions were made and allowed misconceptions to slip by, perhaps the curriculum wasn't written well enough to ensure longevity in the students' memories, perhaps their personal lives at home are a larger focus for them than school is.  This is not a blame game.  The fact is, many students around our country feel this way and the finger can be pointed directly at ourselves.  You see, regardless of the reason for a child to be shut down, cynical, jaded, unengaged, and unenthusiastic, it is OUR JOB as their current teachers to reignite that flame of hope and excitement for learning; because WE ARE HERE TODAY and they matter.

I am often asked about how to do The Fearless Classroom rotations in ELAR when there is Reader's Workshop and Writer's workshop and they need sustained times for both skills to gain stamina and to really hone their skills.  To that, I am writing this post is to demonstrate one simple activity you can do with your students, the reluctant and the eager alike, to get them discussing reading, collaboratively working together, and writing for a purpose.

The Case of the Slain Green Dragon

Using a fifth grade level detective story from , students were grouped together heterogeneously based on academic reading levels.  I believe that there is a time and place for homogeneous groupings, but I also want my more skilled students to be an inspiration and support for my lesser skilled students because we ALL had skills we needs to work on and we are all in this together.  Students were charged with solving the crime of the slain endangered green dragon in the kingdom.  I am dressed as the head of the Department of SIOG (Significantly Important Operational Geniuses) who has come to the class to ask for their help and to brief them on their mission...

There were five suspects and several eye witnesses.  Students read through several pages of eye-witness accounts, testimony, and evidence, collaboratively took notes, asked questions, created charts and drawings, and worked together to make sense of what might have happened.  

Students of all reading levels were able to participate.  Some read the text part by part, some elicited excellent and thought-provoking questions, some provided possible angles and alternative explanations based on the testimony.  Whatever their contribution, everyone participated and felt successful.  

Some groups succeeded in figuring out the actual truth to what happened to the poor dragon.  Others did not.  However, the level of engagement, the level of conversation and negotiation with textual evidence, the respectful collaboration that occurred during this activity was far more important than the right answer.  

THIS is what I mean by being an "idea-driven" rather than an "answer-driven" classroom.  Sometimes, especially in learning situations, it is more about the journey and experience of the activity than the correct answer that makes the greatest impact on students.  

Notice where they are working, that all students are engaged and a variety of strategies and approaches are being used to solve the problem.

So be fearless in your approach, release the students to their own learning.  Set up an environment in which all students feel safe to take risks, supported by you and their peers in their thinking, and where effort and authentic chances are rewarded.  Answers aren't always the most important thing.  Sure they have their place…like on assessments…but if we don't teach kids to LOVE learning and to feel capable and free to explore EVERY angle of problems, then we are simply teaching them that there is always an answer and that if they can't figure it out, they must not be capable.  This unspoken and hopefully unintentional lesson happens daily in our classes… and we must not allow for it anymore.  Be fearless, let your students be fearless.  They deserve the chance.