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Tips for Teachers newsletter #9
Don’t know, plan questions & Tom Sherrington
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 💡
Have you ever asked a student a question and they have responded with: I don’t know?
Of course you have!
The problem with I don’t know is that it tells us nothing.
Does the student literally not know anything about this?
Or are they nervous about being wrong?
Or can they just not be bothered?
Now, there are lots of strategies we can put into place when a student responds with I don't know, and we will address some of these in future newsletters. But here I want to focus on what I think is the best first response: to ask the student: what was the question I just asked?
If the student cannot tell you (and it blows my mind just how many times students are unable to), then you cannot be sure I don’t know is due to a lack of understanding.
Remind them (as sternly as is appropriate) of the importance of listening, get
another student to repeat the question, and return to the first student. More often than not, the student will know the answer to the question, you have saved time by avoiding employing another strategy, and you have taken another important step in creating a classroom where students know they must be actively listening at all times.
What would you need to change to make this tip work for you?
When could you try it for the first time?
View all the Tips for Teachers shared so far
📺 A video to discuss with a colleague 📺
Dylan Wiliam describes why planning questions is a key part of the lesson planning process.
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 👂
Author and teacher trainer, Tom Sherrington, shares his five tips:
Set out the big picture
Provide explicit scaffolds for verbal responses
Start with whoever got 8 out of 10
Foster cross-class accountability
Set occasional open-response tasks
Listen to the podcast here.
😎 Final bits and bobs 😎
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