It's not enough for students to answer questions. True critical thinking begins when students can formulate questions that seek to answer. This leads to internal dialogue which leads to more questions and better, more nuanced questions at that! Many teachers say they do not have time to insert a questioning strategy into their lessons. This month's protocol debunks the idea that student-led questioning takes too long with little return. Give it a try this fall and let me know how it goes.
10 X 10 QUESTIONING STRATEGY (Questioning, Discussion, Collaboration)
Description: Sparking student questioning is at the heart of this simple, but effective protocol. Adapted from an article from Mentoringminds.com, 10 x 10 strategy limits time to promote “thinking focus” when students develop ten questions in ten minutes.
Application: Use 10 x 10 to activate prior knowledge or interest in a topic, after reading or completing a unit of study.
Process: Explain protocol prior to implementation. Display an easy-to-see visual timer set at ten minutes. Instruct students to create ten questions based on the learning in ten minutes. Encourage students to construct a variety of questions from knowledge-based to analysis/evaluative. Encourage quality of questions with “extra credit” enticement for questions used in whole group discussion. At the time-limit, collect work and select questions from submissions and discuss.
Resources and for more information:
Berger, W. (2014) Five ways to help your students become better questioners. Edutopia.org
Stobaugh, R. Sparking Student Questioning, Mentoringminds.com
Whether we are ready or not, AI is demanding a seat at the education table. But like anything that is new, those who use it must be accountable for understanding the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all. A teacher who uses the AI tool mentioned here MUST understand the implications and be able to justify its use. No doubt, this is a time saver of epic proportions for the beleaguered English teacher, but it is not without some potential problems. Explore! Try it out and let us know how it goes!
USING TECH: AI: GOTFEEDBACK (Feedback, Writing)
Description: With a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality, gotFeedback is an AI tool for teachers to save time grading written work. From the website: “To receive good feedback from gotFeedback, (teachers) you need to create specific prompts. Using the Seven Keys to Effective Feedback by Grant Wiggins, gotFeedback has put together advice on how to create effective prompts for it to provide desired feedback . . .” AI or no, teachers should always read student’s work .
Application: Use this tool to streamline feedback.
Process: Go to www.gotlearning.com and explore the possibilities using the tool. From the information gathered, start small by assigning a fairly simple and straightforward prompt. Make sure students submit their work online. To access the feedback, upload or paste student text (word or PDF) into the gotFeedback box. Select the element of writing the AI tool needs to analyze: narrative structure, details in writing, claims in writing, and evidence in writing. Note that there is also a custom feature. (For the first few times the AI tool is used, make sure to read the original student work and form conclusions as to what feedback without AI assistance would look like in order to judge its value.) Once AI has analyzed the document, read the written evaluation, copy the text onto the student document and edit to provide “more personalized feedback.” Be ready to correct inaccuracies in the AI feedback.
References or for more information:
Byrne, R. (2023) Practical Ed Tip of the Week: gotFeeback- An AI Tool for Providing Feedback on Writing Freetech4teachers.com
This month's protocol focuses on the need for students to stop skimming and start understanding! This is just one way to use the method, but there are others out on the Internet! Look for "Fact Pyramid."
READ, EVALUATE, RANK, & REASON (Reading, Writing, Discussion, Feedback)
Description: Based on the “Fact Pyramid” activity, this protocol provides students with the opportunity to be accountable for their efforts by going beyond skimming text. Once students get acquainted with the method, it can be inserted into online, in-class, and homework assignments easily. See below for addendum.
Application: Use in any subject that includes textbook readings, short stories, articles, primary source material, close reading, and fiction/nonfiction. With some modification, this method can be used to evaluate graphics and short videos.
Process: Model method numerous times before students use it individually. Pre-select the reading material to be evaluated. In class, assign reading and tell students to highlight information they think is important. Hand-out graphic organizer (Addendum NNN). Instruct students to fill-in pyramid by rank ordering the top four bits of information from most (1) to least important (4). In the corresponding boxes, tell students to explain why they selected the rankings. Once completed, allow time for class talk, guiding, confirming, and clarifying points. To extend the learning, ask students to create an exit ticket summarizing the reading in one paragraph.
Resources and for more information:
Wiebe, G. (2012) “Fact Pyramid/Because Box” https://www.doingsocialstudies.com
This month's protocol can be used in any subject that has a writing component. It will take just a few minutes to clarify what the differences between revision and edit are and that may spark an "aha moment" that will last a lifetime. Good luck and email me if you have any questions.
BACK TO BASICS: REVISE AND EDIT (Collaboration, Feedback, Discussion, Writing)
Description: Proper peer editing does not happen by chance. Preparing students to edit a partner’s work is key if the goal is to maximize learning. This entry-level approach will not only explain the differences between revising and editing, but how to work well within a team structure. Other benefits include students being able to competently edit their own work as well as understanding various perspectives in the revision process.
Application: Use in English Language Arts and any subject that lengthy written work is assigned.
Process: Prepare students to use “Revise and Edit” strategy by asking students to answer what is the difference between revising and editing a paper. Elicit answers and clarify the concepts: “Revising makes writing sound better and editing makes writing look better.” Revising concentrates on the overall view or “big picture” of the work. Editing focuses on conventions of writing. Share this graphic:
Depending on the original assignment and level of student, instruct them to concentrate on revising first, then, editing (or students can revise and edit at the same time). Model the strategy first so that students understand expectations.
Resources and/or for more information:
We Are Teachers (2014) 5 Peer Editing Strategies That Actually Work For Student Writers
March 2023 Protocol of the Month: Easy Group Activity to get Students Reading, Thinking, Talking, and Writing.
This month's protocol provides students the means to look at an issue from both sides and objectively make conclusions. As they advance in grade level, they should also mature in thinking and be willing to see others' points of view or that their conclusions may need revision. This protocol should always start with a reminder to students that differing opinions do not necessarily mean "right/wrong or good/bad." Let me know how it goes.
PRO AND CON GRID ASSIGNMENT (Collaboration, Discussion, Reading, Writing)
Description: This collaboration strategy allows students to go beyond superficial talking points by thoroughly reviewing an issue, creating a list of pros and cons and making decisions based on the analysis of the information.
Application: This method can be used in any subject when evaluating, for example, the pros and cons of a process or procedure, a technique, a conclusion, decisions or actions of a fictional character, a dilemma, a judgment, or a political decision. It can be used as the basis for a debate format or side notes when presenting direct instruction.
Process: Find an issue that has clearly defined competing points of view. On class day, divide students into groups of four and within the groups of four, split into teams of two, labeling one team “Pro” and the other “Con.” Based on the topic, specify the minimum number of pros and cons each group must develop. Allow time for research but be ready to continue when students are finished. Allow time for teams to regroup and discuss findings. Elicit responses and record pros and cons by creating a T-chart labeled “Pro” and “Con” on the whiteboard OR create a Google Doc and ask students to complete it in real time. When finished, return to the whole group format, combine similar answers and denote the frequency of repetitive thoughts and use this as a springboard for students to make conclusions on the matter. To extend the activity, assign individuals a writing assignment based on the experience. Questions to include What was your position on the issue before the research, did that change? What were your group’s most compelling arguments on both sides? What did your group eventually conclude about the issue?
Resources and for more information:
Nine Alternatives to Lecturing. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo.
Pro and Con Grid Online https://kb.wisc.edu/instructional-resources/page.php?id=104408
Teachers can maximize time if students are trained to expect a bellringer each and every day. This month's protocol allows students to talk-it-out in groups which is a break from the classic bellringer, and that keeps boredom at bay. Tell me what you do to keep students actively engaged.
THINKING TRIOS BELLRINGER (Collaboration, Discussion)
Description: An often-used bellringer is to ask students to find “mistakes” embedded in material presented on the whiteboard. Rather than individual students working silently, use preassigned student groups to collectively find the mistakes and discuss possible solutions with each other and then as a whole group.
Application: Use this warm-up in any subject.
Process: Preassign teams of three and explain the bellringer:
1. Gather in assigned trio and be ready to find mistakes. 2. Work quietly so that other trios do not hear answers and raise hands when they think they found all of the mistakes. 3. After the first team finishes, other teams will have a few additional minutes, but then, at the count of three, all other trios must indicate (with their counting fingers or a piece of scrap paper, the number of mistakes found. 4. The trio that finds the most mistakes describe its answers until another team challenges or until they are finished. (The teacher will affirm the answers or clarify any misconceptions if necessary. Bellringer should last at least ten minutes, but no more than fifteen.)
Take a look at this awesome strategy. Your multiple-choice questions may take a few extra minutes to make, but the payoff is worth it because students have a way to show their confusion, but also a way to correct it. Life isn't an all or nothing thing, so why do multiple-choice questions have to be?
Tell me what you think!
MODIFIED MULTIPLE-CHOICE (Feedback, Writing)
Description: Multiple-choice questions are relatively easy to make and process for grades, but the feedback potential for both student and teacher can be greatly enhanced with a nuanced approach. This format, by adding choices, will reveal each student’s level of understanding. It helps students focus on concepts that need additional study or practice. It clarifies confusion between two or more things that are similar, but not exact and also reveals sloppy preparation or flawed thinking. Insightful grading gives half point value to the additional choices.
Application: This strategy is used in all subjects that use a multiple-choice question format.
Process: Explain to students that some of the multiple-choice items will have more than the standard 4 responses to choose. Provide an example:
Who was the first President of the United States?
A. Abraham Lincoln
B. Alexander Hamilton
C. George Washington
D. Thomas Jefferson
E. A or B
F. C or D
Give students time to answer and review process by explaining if the student selected “C” as the answer, full point(s) awarded, but if the student chose “F” give half point(s) value. Emphasize all other answers are incorrect and no points given. Extend the learning opportunity by assigning in-class/homework focused on clarification of all incorrect or “half-point” answers. (In the above example, the student who selected “F” could say "Washington was the first and Jefferson was the third President of the United States.")
Whether it is for an online class, hybrid, or in-person circumstance, using the Learning Management System’s announcement feature with intention and purpose enhances students’ trust in the platform and builds relationship between teacher and student. In essence, it is the online version of morning announcements with a possible “to-do” list. Not only will absent students benefit, but also for those students who may have questions about processes, procedures, assignments, due dates, etc. For teachers, announcements become evidence, eliminating “he-said, she-said” situations.
Take advantage of an available tool- your LMS announcement feature!
First, consider overall goals of implementation: consistency, organized structure of messages, logistics, preview/review instruction, and rapport and team building. Second, employ best practices by limiting the announcements, labeling them correctly, and offering supplemental materials where appropriate. Next, be consistent in posting whether it is daily, weekly, or another arrangement like Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but be consistent. Label announcements with key words before the topic label: Usually Mondays: CLASS INFORMATION for (date) includes a weekly kick-off announcement complete with preview of instructional content, but also on-time reminders, upcoming deadlines, tutoring schedules, expectations and anything that clarifies the logistics of the class. Discern which items need to be in text and which can by linked. FIXED FOCUS contains extended content, questions to ponder, assignments, and related content materials that will assist students in deeper understanding. Fixed Focus is usually posted mid-week. Because students need encouragement, include a Friday label like RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW! or YOU’VE GOT THIS! and provide inspirational messages but also places for dialogue, usually a discussion board. Tee-up student interaction by using prompts that allow expression of thoughts and feelings, challenges and triumphs, and motivations within the class. Be part of the dialogue, but sparingly. Finally, be prepared for miscommunications and once discovered, act. Use URGENT! READ NOW label and set the record straight.
Inspired by Dr. Nathan Pritts, Using Announcements to Give Narrative Shape to your Online Course Faculty Focus June 1, 2020
Let me know what you think!
Alison Thetford, M.Ed