Ensuring maximum engagement when posing questions of your students. This is Part 3 of a three-part article. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.
Last week, I had the pleasure of observing an expert teacher pose questions for her third grade students that met with all hands raised (including several special needs students). Students were sitting at their desks as this teacher moved throughout the room, asking rapid-fire questions related to a math concept. The teacher distributed raffle tickets to students as they correctly answered each question. As I surveyed the room, every student was actively listening and ready to be called on at any moment.
At the beginning of class, the teacher told the students that five tickets would be drawn for animal crackers after the focus lesson. As it turned out, eight students had been awarded tickets during the question/answer session. The teacher then turned the drawing into an opportunity to question students about the probability of their number being drawn for a cookie. By creating high energy in her class through game-like questioning, every minute was a learning opportunity and every student engaged with each question in hopes of being awarded a ticket.
This example is just one way effective teachers plan for managing student response rates that maximize engagement to help students process and/or elaborate on new information, as well as review previously taught content. Here are two more easy-to-implement strategies for managing student response rates.
1. Choral response is a method of questioning that allows students to answer by calling out responses in unison. This is particularly effective for providing multiple opportunities to deepen declarative knowledge. For example, the teacher asks a question that requires a one-word or short answer, such as a definition or step in a process. Instead of calling on one or two students to answer, all the students respond. This strategy helps students take risks, as there is safety in numbers, thus making it highly unlikely anyone will be embarrassed by answering incorrectly. It’s a great way to monitor the majority of your students for the desired effect of engagement and participation in answering questions.
2. Using the vote with your feet strategy, you will pose a question that requires an alignment with a claim or opinion. Your students decide which statement he/she agrees with and moves to a designated location. Students who are undecided can move to a middle ground location. Once in the designated location, have students share the reasons or grounds for the claim or opinion. Students should be encouraged to state qualifiers and challenge the logic of each others’ reasoning. Students who were undecided can be convinced and join either group. This strategy is an excellent way to get all students to answer higher order thinking questions, as well as provide movement to re-engage those who need to move in order to focus.
The ultimate goal of managing response rates is for the entire class to respond to questions posed by the teacher. Using question/answer strategies helps keep the learning energy high and students focused in their working memories in order to process and deepen understanding of concepts, skills, strategies, and processes.
Do you have additional ideas for managing student response rates? Please leave your suggestions in the space below. We’d love to extend our list.