Tag Archives: questions

2 Quick Ways to Help Kids Ask Questions

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If you haven’t been following #eduread on Make It Stick (by Brown, Roediger, & McDaniel) this summer, you are missing out on some good, thought-provoking conversation. (The next chat is Tuesday at 8 eastern/7 central on Chapter 6).  Last night we talked about avoiding “illusions of knowledge,” i.e:

This led into how do you get kids to get help/ask questions? I was somewhat successful with two methods this year and thought I’d share:

1) Question Pop Quiz

On the start of a practice or study guide day (or maybe just after you’ve learned something really meaty), alert the students that they will be having a open-note pop quiz. (This part is optional, but sometimes isn’t it fun to mess with their minds a bit?)  Hand out 1/4 sheets of blank paper (I always have a ton of one-sided scrap paper).   Then tell them for the next __ minutes (usually 2, but not more than 5), they need to write every question they may have about the section/unit/chapter. It can be general (how do you know when to do…) or specific (I need help on #4 from 5.3).  (Do I use too many parentheses?)  (Never!)  (Like I tell my kids, parentheses are protection, and they don’t work if you don’t use them.)

When time is up, I set the timer for 5-10 minutes to see if they can get the answers from their group members. If so, they can scratch them out, or if they have more, add them. Then I collect the “quizzes” and answer any unanswered questions as a class.

2) Personal Mr/Ms _______ Time

There is certainly something true about the magic of sitting down at eye-level with students. So during some study guide days, I bring my chair over to a group, set the timer for 5 minutes, and they get to ask any questions they have. If they don’t have any, I quickly scan their work to see if perhaps they do have questions but don’t know they do, but if not, then I let them “bank” their time for me to come back later, but I try to spend a whole 5 minutes with them at some point during the period. I tote around a mini-whiteboard in case I want to write something down that the whole group asks about, or I can help individuals one-on-one. If it’s a question like “AH WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE’RE DOING” I may do a vocal poll of the rest of the groups and if a majority are in the same boat, go over it as a class so I’m not repeating myself 7 times (plus it doesn’t count against their time).  Pam even suggested getting a mechanic’s roller chair (aka “creeper chair”)…yes, they even have them with cupholders!

This was a good way for me to be more equitable about my time in class, but I still struggle with that when it’s a short group work time, or a day of whiteboard practice. I always end up inadvertently skipping a group, spending all the time with just a few vocal students, or hearing “I had my hand up before her!”. Anyone have suggestions on that situation? Maybe I can get some sort of ticket system like the deli has:

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Many Questions, Few Answers

So in trying to be a better teacher this year, I have a few questions that I would LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE like, seriously, LOVE if you could add your input either here or on twitter (@mathymeg07)

1) I’m really trying to “you, y’all, us.”  But Y’ALL is soooooo slow.  I hear them having great conversations on example three for 10 minutes, but I want them to see example four before they leave, too!  How do you not worry about time?  Or how can I better plan or pace my class time?  I am trying to book it through bellringers, homework questions, discussion/lecture/practice and definitely not having enough time to finish or even squeeze in a quick formative assessment (other than me going around and looking at their work in groups).  And I don’t want this “oh, the learners will learn at their own pace and just take as many days as you need” because I have approximately 217 objectives to cover in Algebra II.  (FYI, we switch between 47 and 52 minute classes every other day).

2) The class is finally rocking and rolling and 25/26 have the correct answer.  What do I do with the one kid who doesn’t get it?  Move on and tell them I’ll help at the end, but I won’t really because I’ll run out of time?  Tell them to come back later, but they won’t?  Have someone (or me) explain the problem even though 25 of them have it solved correctly?

3) Also, what about the one kid that is always finished first?  I have one kid that has already finished the application practice we’re going to work on tomorrow.  I don’t mind that he has because I’m also the type of person that will work through something you give me until I am done, whether or not it is assigned.  I would just like to make class time more worthwhile for him.

4) What do you do with the kid that answers every. single. question?  Or, I guess to describe it better, the kid who thinks out loud.  Loudly.

5) I tried whiteboarding mistakes and I really liked it for the groups that were making the mistakes.  However, some students complained that it confused them when we went over them.  How can I make whiteboarding beneficial for the students that got it and for the students that are still struggling with the concept being whiteboarded?  (side question: could we come up with a better name than “whiteboarding” so it doesn’t seem like I’m using questionable spy tactics with my students?)

6) How can I get over the feeling that I am letting some kids flounder by pushing so much of their learning onto groups and away from directed teaching?

Again, I would appreciate ANY AND ALL COMMENTS, SUGGESTIONS, OR MAGIC POTIONS!!  Thank you!

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