For much of my education, I have seen the asking of questions based upon one student at a time as inherent flawed. However, classroom exposition relies upon interspersed questions. There is a danger, of course, that students are not receptive to the exposition, thereby (massively) reducing its effectiveness.

Essentially, in a class a teacher wants to provide regular expert-level exposition. However, this needs to be interspaced with clear points for the students to think, and to work with concepts. The irksome and politically tedious battleground between traditional and progressive pedagogy lacks the nuance to find applicable middle ground.

The foundation of provided expert-level exposition this is that students should enjoy regular times to reflect on understanding.

Voting on a hand 1-5

Currently, I require students to vote from 1-5 in response to hinge questions. These are based on:

  1. Understanding new vocabulary (1 never heard; 3 heard but no idea; 5 can explain meaning)
  2. Responding to a question (1 true/5 false).
  3. Personal feeling about the difficult of a concept (1 weak/5 strong)
  4. Confidence with beginning a task (1 can’t start; 5 entirely confident)

At this time I overuse the use of voting from 1-5 on hands. This week, I intend to refine my use of this with the following:

Non-physical breaks
Allow a short time 5-30 seconds of conversation to check understanding or to prime thinking
Think, (pause) pounce bounce… this also attempts to direct the class’s social experience of concepts: encouraging students to contest, and playing on social dynamics to provide this experience.
Count down SLOWLY during deep-thinking conversation… listen to the conversation… cocktail party effect (where you are hearing many conversations at once).

Use and to select students who have been discussing. The randomised element, when established, ensure all students discuss as if they will have to share.

The use of clickers is arduous. I mod games, and these damn things are difficult to make work every time. The data can be useful, but arduous to create, manage, and there is still a leap to understand the data in a non-multiple choice based question.

Quick Writes
Quick Writes can either be a TiL (Today I Learned, a modified KWL).

Students can show with their expressions, how confidence they feel…

Quick writes (TiLs)… can be 2 minutes. What I learned… how this connects… question to extend…

Mouthing Answers

Students mouthing individual answers demonstrates thinking… One word (a character), or a learning verb that is expected is useful. This needs to be based upon an idea or concept that is definitive. This can be based upon a selection of possible answers.

For the future (requires some prior prep)

3 in 3s… to explore this notion of students socially working around the classroom.

Appointments: arrange 5 appointments across the class. At various points in the lesson, you declare a time and students have to meet that student to discuss a point made in the lesson. This can be ongoing throughout the lesson, and again focus on the experiential aspect of learning.