Questioning Pattern

I had a great evaluation observation with one of my APs today–I say great because my students were on point and performed above where I expected them to, and because my AP gave me valuable feedback despite the fact that she doesn’t speak Spanish.

CC-BY-SA 2008 Guy Sie flickr.com
CC-BY-SA 2008 Guy Sie flickr.com

My AP first reported to me what she observed about my questioning patterns. At the beginning of class, I’d call on a specific student and, with little wait time, require an answer. This was during the Campanada (the bellwork/entry task), so I am asking them questions that they have already processed. Later on in the class, I called on specific students, gave them some wait time, and then affirmed their answer (if it was correct, I repeated it; if it was incorrect, I repeated it correctly). This was while we were going through a reading that was projected on the board, and the questions were comprehension questions. Still later, I opened up questions to the whole class for voluntary responses. This was when I was asking personalized questions about the reading.

As she was reporting this back to me, I was pleased because I felt like my questioning techniques made sense for the purpose of each kind of question. However, she pointed out to me that calling on an individual student BEFORE I ask a question immediately allows other students to tune out. In order to hold all students accountable and keep them engaged, I need to ask the question FIRST, and then call on an individual student. Afterward, I need to ask accountability questions to other students in the class (which I do sometimes, but not intentionally or habitually. These questions might be, “Is __ correct?”, “Do you agree with __?”, or “What did __ say?” This is great because it will expose students to vocabulary like “agree with” and “is correct”, so that they will acquire those terms as the school year progresses as well, even if we aren’t targeting them.

The formula that she gave me to keep ALL students engaged during questioning is

Question + 3 or more seconds wait time + Name + 3 or more seconds wait time + Answer + Follow-up 

I think that most students will need more than 3 seconds of wait time (that is the average wait time needed by English speakers) because they are performing in a second language. Interestingly enough, she said that the average wait time needed for a native Spanish speaker (in Spanish) is 2.6 seconds–they really do converse faster than we do in English!!

I am so thankful that she was able to give me valuable critical feedback despite the language barrier! I love my administrators 🙂

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