No hands up!

At the recent NQT Conference at York St John University, there was a workshop taken by a lead inspector. The purpose of this workshop was to present some information on how to prepare for an OFSTED inspection. The overall main point was to continue to do what you are currently doing – demonstrating good or outstanding practice. However, one of the interesting points that was brought up was the use of ‘no hands up’ within the classroom. So let’s waffle about that!

Before reading the rest of this waffle you might want to first read this waffle on Questions and Questioning

Chose your Lollipop!

Chose your Lollipop!

Whenever I start to discuss the ‘no hands up’ approach to asking questions, many students and teachers alike exhale gasps of horror and suddenly start looking at their desks. The approach, although often disliked by the recipients, does have merits and demonstrates a very good understanding of both the children, their possibility for progression and the teacher’s assessment. There are, of course, two very different approaches to asking questions, one the random – what I call the lollipop stick – method and one the planned method. The former, to me, shows no difference to the usual method of asking questions when the children put their hands up. For me, the no hands up approach is more about targeting questions to certain children. This is what, in my opinion, demonstrates and reflects the understanding of pedagogy.

Before reading the rest of this waffle you might want to first read this waffle on Questions and Questioning.

  • Random or targeted – Although drawing lollipop sticks out of a hat or rolling for a random name on an internet application can be valid ways to generate a random choice for your questions, a more assessment driven way is to target your questions specifically to the individual or groups of children. One question I always ask when appraising or observing a lesson is – ‘why did you chose that child?’ The answer I always want to hear, and often receive, is linked to assessment. Essentially there needs to be a reason behind some of your questioning. This will be in response to your assessment from the previous lesson, something you have just seen or heard or even to follow up on your previous question. Demonstrating why you chose the child is important. This can be linked to your assessment tracker and should be identified within your planning alongside your key questions.The response to the question you have asked is, of course, assessment itself and should be recorded.

  • Targeted Group questions – As well as a question evolving from assessment, targeted questions can also be used to challenge and progress either individual children or groups. Within the introductory part of the lesson, often the mental and oral starter, targeted questions can be given to groups of children. This is a form of differentiation and allows the group to progress – remember the question does not always be to the higher attainers – it could be to the other groups as well. Again, the reasoning behind this form of questioning is important, and yes – I would ask the same question as in the previous section.

  • Targeted homework questions – It is important to always include learning away from the classroom – i.e. homework. Through using a different approach to setting homework targeted questions can also be set. Although this is not manageable on an individual level, utilising group targeted questions for homework is possible. Again this will be linked to your assessment within the classroom and be focused on progressing the children’s learning. It is important that you relate this method to both the children and the parents alike. Everyone needs to be aware that your questions for homework are linked to the learning for that group – you don’t want to end up with children struggling with other group’s work when the homework sheet has been lost. Using the school’s VLE is important here and allows all sheets to be accessed by parents and children alike. This will allow them to attempt other sheets or see what the next steps might be.

  • Through the use of targeted questions you will be able to not only contribute to the overall progression of the children’s learning, but also demonstrate the effectiveness of your assessment and planning procedures.

    I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas, please add them in the comments below or send me them to be via twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, google+ or email.

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