#26 Use mini-whiteboards when going through tests
They are a game-changer in terms of student engagement and our checks for understanding
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💡 A quick tip to try in class this week 💡
As we are in the midst of exam season, I have been thinking a lot about how teachers go through tests.
Here’s something I see a lot:
The teacher models how to answer a question
They maybe ask one or two students to contribute
The the rest of the class either places a tick if they got the question right, or makes a correction if they got it wrong (in green or purple pen, of course)
Then on to the next question
In the end, students have something that looks like this:
The key problem with this approach is the low participation ratio. It is very easy for any number of students to decide not to listen or to think, and without listening or thinking there can be no learning. Crucially, the teacher is unlikely to pick up on this - the only visible evidence available to signal students’ effort and understanding is their test papers, and they are beautifully adorned in green.
So, what is the solution? Well, once again the humble mini-whiteboard can come to our rescue. With a mini-whiteboard beside each student, the teacher is empowered to ask questions that all students have to respond to. When going through a test, those questions could include:
What topic is this question from?
What was your first line or working?
What units must the answer be in?
What final answer did you get?
What line of working did you go wrong?
What do you think a common wrong answer is?
How many marks did you get?
If I change this number, how does the answer change?
Knowing that they will regularly be called upon to respond provides the incentive needed for students to listen and think. Moreover, the data the teacher gets back is invaluable to get a sense of students’ understanding.
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 📺
Teacher educator and researcher, Sarah Cottingham, explains the importance of knowing how retrieval practice works
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Author and teacher development expert, Harry Fletcher-Wood, shares his five tips:
Do less, but better
Find a tool that tells you what’s really happening
Build habits, not one-off things
Work out why things work
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