I’m sitting on my patio working on my homework for a grad class I’m taking (Yes, it is finally warm in Michigan). I just read a section on quantitative data gathering during formal teacher observations. The observation focus under discussion is teacher questioning; Do teachers focus on questioning certain sections of the classroom while neglecting others? For example a teacher may ask questions of students in rows 2 and 4 while ignoring students in rows 1 and 3.
As a 21st century advocate my first question is why are the students sitting in rows? My second question is why is this teacher asking questions to only one student at a time?
You know the drill. We’ve all done it. We ask a question, wait two seconds and then call on the first student who shoots their hand up in the air. The whole class knows it too. So they hide. Head down. Eyes down. Hand down. 99% of the class becomes invisible while one student answers the question. They are off the hook, saved by the class answer-er. Zero learning takes place.
Let’s stage a revolution.
Every student, every question.
It’s one of my teaching mantras. I’ve used it for years. If a question is good for one, it’s good for everyone. All you need is a few tools and learning structures.
Ask the entire class the questions.
- Whiteboards: Every student in class answers on their own whiteboard and shows their answer to the teacher.
- Turn and Talk: Every student writes their answer on their whiteboard and then turns and tells a partner their answer.
- Turn and Write: Every student answers the question in their head (give think time) and then tells their partner. The partner A records their partner B’s answer on their own white board and vice versa
- Group Answer: Break class into groups of 4. Ask a question. Every student records an answer on their whiteboard. Every student in each group shares their answer with their group. The group then writes a group answer including info from every group member.
There is no where to hide.
IDK is not an answer in my classroom. Neither is a shoulder shrug. Everyone knows it so no one even tries it any more.
I am often amazed at my students’ answers. Many times they include info I didn’t think of. Some students draw diagrams. Some students answer with pictures. I’ve even had a few students answer questions by drawing cartoons. Amazing.
So no more one kid, one question.
Every student, every question, every time.
by Mary Kay Kane
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