We all know about the importance of asking good questions to prompt deeper thinking. Sometimes the protocols around questioning are as important as the questions themselves. At an inservice this summer, we learned a few things about that we’re still thinking about at HIP:
- Don’t have students raise their hands or otherwise volunteer to answer. Calling on only those who raise their hands gives other students permission to disengage. Tell the students that they will all have a chance to think about their answer and you will decide whom to call on.
- Allow students to “pass” but not to “opt out.” If a student is called on and doesn’t have a response, s/he has permission to take a pass. But you will come back to him/her later to elaborate on or add to the discussion.
- Provide “think time” before and after a student responds. Wait for 3-5 seconds after asking a question before calling on a student to answer. Then wait another 3-5 seconds after the student responds; s/he will often elaborate or add more. Three seconds appears to be a “magic number” that leads to increases in the length and quality of responses (Rowe 1972).