Friday, June 21, 2013

eliciting student responses

Chapter 4, "Eliciting Evidence of Learner's Achievement" in Wiliam's Embedded Formative Assessment is all about ways to figure out if students have learned what has been taught.

The chapter includes very practical discussions of how to elicit responses.  I have been guilty of calling on the students who raise their hands knowing full well that the others are quite willing to let those few answer all the questions!  One suggestion in the book is that students should only raise their hands if they have a question.  The teacher should have a plan for calling on students randomly in discussion.  I used a random name generator and the students loved it.  But because it was online, it tied up my computer/projector ... made it difficult to flip back and forth if I was displaying questions electronically.  I purchased Popsicle sticks last year but never wrote students' names on them.  I think that I need to put them in place for the coming year.  But I might try this "card-o-matic" idea ... names on index cards, same name on more than one card, cards on a ring ... looks easy!

To gather input from all students, I plan to make a simple A, B, C, D card for students to keep in their binders.  To add variety, I'll use technology as well.  Clickers are great if they are available.  We can use Socrative since our 9th graders are being issued laptops.

Students love to use their phones.  I saw the Spanish teacher's students talking on phones near the end of school.  I asked her what they were doing.  She uses Google Voice to capture student dialogue.  Students dial her Google Voice number and "leave a message!"   I want to explore this tool for sure ... would love for students to verbally explain their work to me.

Besides the practice "how-to" capture students' responses, the author discussed the kinds of questions to ask and how the right question can tell us so much about a student's thinking.  One example had two equations:  3a = 24 and a + b = 16.  Students were asked to solve them.  Students were puzzled, said it couldn't be done.  It confused them that in this set of equations a and b both equal eight.  It's so true that so many of our examples are carefully contrived, that it is difficult for students to overcome the hidden patterns that we teach.

Another example, Simplify (if possible):  2a + 5b, at first glance seemed unusual.  The author purports that this example is fair and worthy.  If a student can be tempted to simplify that expression, then the teacher needs to know that before moving on.

This chapter challenges me to consider the questions I'm asking in class and the methods I use to collect student responses.

How do you engage all learners in responding to discussion?
What are your best questions?

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