Teacher, Teacher, Teacher!! ; More than One Way to Get Children to Ask and Answer Questions in Class
You often hear, that children are far more confident today than they were in the past, say 10 or 20 years ago. Some say they talk too much, are too quick to tell you they have a problem (expecting you to solve it) and often are very good at interrupting you rather than signalling for your attention.
However, I have found that it is often very difficult in a class to hear everyones voice, to give everyone a chance to speak. Within this context I find it even harder to ensure all children have a chance to answer questions and be part of classroom discussions. Sometimes I rush to get the lesson done, and I rely on the old "reliable" children to answer the questions to move the lessons along. However, I realised this wasn't very fair and I had to make some effort - both carrot and stick to make sure children had their voices heard, took part in class conversations and spoke up.
Below are five tips I used to encourage more talk in my lessons and throughout my school day.
1. One Question a Day Keeps the Doctor Away; I saw asking questions as a whole day endeavour rather than in each lesson, with my hope being that children would answer at least one question a day in class. I wrote the children's names on lollypop sticks and colour coded them to ability. Throughout my lessons during a given day, I took from the lollypop jar and ensured I was choosing different children for questions. The colour coding helped me choose pupils that could answer the question level I was asking, and ensured I spread the abilities in each lesson.
2. All Hands Up; In some lessons, I used all hands up, this meant when I asked questions, all children had their hands up, meaning they were active in the lesson and could be asked (and not on the hop) which meant they had to consider an answer, something they usually wouldn't do if I asked a question, and only choose children whose hands were up.
3. Whiteboard Jungle; For some lessons when I asked questions, I would get all children to write their answers on whiteboards and hold them up, this meant that each child had an opportunity to answer - I usually did this in Maths but it worked right across the curriculum.
4. Whole Class Conversations ; Usually children tune out after they get to speak and often the lesson seems directed through the teacher, rather than a conversation. Here I would ask children did they agree or disagree with another pupils points and get them to refer to what others said in their own answers. This helped children pay attention to other children rather than just looking to answer a question I asked.
5. The Wonder Wall; Often such wonderful thoughts and questions children have disappear underneath prescribed work. I did not want to loose this and left post-its on each child's desk. Whenever something happen in a lesson, or they had a question, they wrote it on a post-it and placed it on the Wonder Wall, and each Friday we would look at some of the questions and investigate or find out the answers .
And it would be remiss of me not to mention;
Think / Pair / Share; The go-to to ensure children get to answer questions and respond in class.
So hopefully the above might be food for thought around how you can encourage more chat in class in a more active way.