Friday, November 15, 2013

Classroom Norms for Think Time and Participation

Good teaching is more a 
giving of right questions than 
a giving of right answers.
~Josef Albers

I love this quote because more and more educators, parents and students are realizing the core of mathematics lies in the act of justifying and reasoning. The practice of questioning is one way that we can get students to discuss ideas and justify their reasoning- a necessity our young learners need when they enter today's workforce.

So what questions can we ask students to elicit some discourse? Here are my favorite questions/prompts:
  • Tell me more...
  • I don't know, what do you think?
  • Why?
  • Will it always work?
But sometimes, even when I've tried my favorite questions or planned the perfect reflective question, I still sometimes struggle to get all students to participate with each other, especially those that feel like they "can't do math." (Which is NOT true, of course!)

This year, at the Texas ASCD conference, Jackie Walsh, an independent consultant who has two decades of experience working with educators to improve questioning practices, shared some awesome ideas during her presentation.

Have you ever thought about establishing classroom "Norms" for think time AND participation? Here are Jackie's suggestions:

Think Time Norms
1. Use the pause following the asking of a question to think about the question and to come up with your response.
2. Use the pause after your response to think about what you said and add or change it.
3. Use the pause following a classmate's response to compare it to your own. Be ready to agree or disagree and to add to your ideas.

Participation Norms
1. Raise your hand only to ask a question or to comment on another student's response.
2. Listen with respect to other points of view in order to fully understand and learn.
3. Monitor your talk so others can contribute.

Do students know that when you provide "wait time" that their role is to think about the question and come up with a response? Do students understand how to respectfully participate in a discussion or response? I think some of these norms could be helpful in the classroom. In fact, in the book Academic Conversations by Jeff Zwiers he also addresses this very same topic. (This is another excellent resource!)

Lastly, on my quest to learn more about classroom discourse, here is another video I came across from the teaching channel. If you haven't viewed this yet, I promise, it is worth your 3 minutes!

I'm curious...What are your ideas for getting all students participating in math discussions?

1 comment: