Do our questions inhibit learning?
Do you ever find that only a select few pupils opt into discussions, put hands up or are vocal in class?
Opting into Learning
- When we begin questions with “Who knows..?” “Who can tell me..?” “Who wants to..?”, we are allowing pupils to either opt in or opt out of the question. Therefore, it is a good idea to find some alternatives to “Who” and “Can”.
- Instead of: “Who knows what happens when we mix sugar and water?” Try: “I’ve been wondering what happens when we mix sugar and water. Ben, what do you know about this?”
- Instead of: “Who can tell me what an adverb is?” Try: “I know that adverbs have a function. Ella, share something you know about adverbs.”
- Instead of: “Can you tell me the name of Henry VIII’s reign?” Try: “I’d like to discover what you know or don’t yet know about Henry VIII’s reign, Nisa, tell everyone what you already know or something you want to discover about this.”
Why is it a good strategy?
Rephrasing our questions can completely change the way our pupils respond. Asking “Can you..?” risks the obvious answer of “No actually, I can’t” and so by rephrasing, we encourage pupils to fully participate.
Remember to give pupils a fair time to think and then respond – don’t be afraid to wait a few seconds for someone to gather their thoughts but if they’re still not responding, tell them you’ll find time to come back to them and be sure to do so!