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Tips for Teachers newsletter #11
Diagnostic questions, group work & Sonia Thompson
Hello, and welcome to the Tips for Teachers newsletter. For over 400 ideas to try out the very next time you step into the classroom, check out my Tips for Teacher book.
💡 A quick tip to try in class this week 💡
Last week we discussed diagnostic questions in terms of developing good habits. This week I want to share my mantra that with a diagnostic question, the thinking does not need to stop with the correct answer.
Let's imagine you have asked your students the following question:
What is 10 more than 43?
The vast majority of students vote that the answer is B. Sure, we could move on, but we could also probe our students' understanding by turning their attention to the incorrect answers. Here are my two favourite follow-up challenges:
1. Challenge students to explain the wrong answers to a diagnostic question
Why might someone think the answer was 44? How about 430 or 52? And how would students convince someone that they were wrong?
Students could think about this independently first, writing thoughts down on mini-whiteboards, and then engage in a paired discussion to compare their reasoning. And then you can call on some pairs to share their thinking.
2. Challenge students to make the wrong answers correct
Can students change the original question as little as possible to make each of the wrong answers correct?
As little as possible is the key here. This ensures you are assessing students’ understanding of the concept at the heart of the question, and not allowing their attention to wander into different realms of the subject. Using the question above as an example, there are lots of questions for which 44 is the correct answer, but I am hoping students will think of 1 more than 43 or 10 more than 34.
Can you do the same for 430 and 52?
These two challenges can be used with any diagnostic question. They can be used whole-class, or with smaller groups of students whilst you support others with the original question.
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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📺 A video to discuss with a colleague 📺
Maths teacher, Sammy Kempner, explains his approach to group work.
If the video doesn't play when you click on it, click here
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👂 A podcast episode to listen to on your way home 👂
Primary head teacher, Sonia Thompson, shares her five tips:
Read for pleasure and read for progress
Be clear about your career pathway
Make use of the NPQs
Go out and visit other schools
Think about implementation
Listen to the podcast here.
😎 Final bits and bobs 😎
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