#47 Can you get us started...
Use this prompt to encourage more students to contribute
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💡 A tip to try in class this week 💡
Teacher: How do we solve x² + 3x = 22…(wait)… Jack?
The teacher has done nothing wrong here. They have avoided a classic Cold Call trap by ensuring the name, Jack, comes after the question to ensure all students have an incentive to think about the answer. They have also allowed sufficient thinking time, so students have a chance to consider the answer carefully. But if Jack is like many of the students we have all taught over the years, he may be reluctant to share his thoughts.
The problem with how the question is presented is that it implies there is just one correct answer. And unless Jack is super confident he knows what that right answer is, he may choose to refrain from answering rather than be embarrassed in front of his peers. Hence, Jack is likely to reply with a shrug or an “I don’t know”.
But what if the teacher instead asked the question as follows:
Teacher: How do we solve x² + 3x = 22…(wait)… Jack, can you get us started?
The addition of those five words can make all the difference. The stakes are suddenly lowered. The question feels more like an invitation to contribute than a requirement to be correct. If Jack is not sure of all the steps to the solution, it no longer matters, because the phrasing of the question now signals that any knowledge he has will be valued.
It is a small change, but it can make a world of difference to students’ willingness to contribute.
What do you think of this idea?
What would you need to change to make this tip work for you?
When could you try it for the first time?
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