Today's Blog: Any Questions?

How often have you checked for questions in class by asking 'Any questions?' Just as regularly we use the phrase 'Who can tell me...?' or 'Who has an opinion/comment on....?' What links all these frequently used phrases is that they are built on the assumption that most students don't have a question, don't have a response to the topic or don't have an opinion. 'Any questions?' is really code for: 'I assume most of you understand and the one or two who don't can ask a question now.' Of course, there's always more than 'one or two who don't' understand, and they will never ask a question - particularly if it means: a) displaying their ignorance and/or interest in front of the class; b) holding up the class at the end of lesson.
So let's reverse the 'any questions/who can tell me/any comments' paradigm to look like this:
*Everyone has a question (or should have a question). Write it down now.
*Everyone has something to say about this (or should have something to say about this). Write it down now.
We're turning the assumption that only a few students (or none) have questions or comments into the belief that everyone has a question or comment (or should have). It's a simple trick, but it can have a huge impact on the quality of class discussion and active student engagement with the topics you're covering. 
To change the 'any questions' paradigm into 'everyone has questions' you can:
*Regularly during lessons (not always at the end) get students to write down their questions/comments in their books then go round the room and use phrases like this: You have a question [insert student name] - let's hear it. 
Someone had a similar question to...put your hands up so I can see who it was.
....[insert student name] was your question similar or different?
*Students put their questions/comments on post-it-notes and stick them on the board so everyone can see them (and see what questions/comments were shared by others).
*Students write their questions/comments on slips of paper which they hand to you and which you review to see what students didn't understand/think about the topic. Questions can be answered by you, or redistributed to students who can try to answer them.
Our next workshop is on Enrichment English: Strategies, Resources and Units For Teaching Advanced Students At Years 7-10. Find all the information here.

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