In one school all teachers are required to start the lesson with a key question to establish prior knowledge. Spot the mistake, what’s the same/different and odd one out were very popular, leading to high engagement and children often generating their own success criteria.
What do you notice (shape lesson) and what is the same/different led to children being less passive and remembering vocabulary better. Focusing and noticing had improved. These had been used as an assessment tool. To see what had been remembered from last time.
The questions had also been used in the plenary. Planning was quicker. Thinking of the questions took time but then their responses guided the rest of the lesson. It was important to vary the types of questions so they didn’t become too ‘samey’.
One teacher had used science concept cartoons which also highlighted misconceptions, sometimes leading to the planned lesson being scrapped completely.
In maths, giving a statement then saying e.g. Emma thinks this is wrong – do you agree or disagree got children to think deeply and justify their thoughts. This improved their speaking and listening skills. Children encouraged each other to explain.
Example of statement: ‘The purpose of a fable is to scare you’. This revealed that some children didn’t know what a fable was which led to a deeper understanding of the genre and a better idea of what and why writing.
Also ‘All triangles have to have an acute angle’ agree or disagree. This led to the use of accurate mathematical vocabulary.
Another was ‘2×3 is the same as 3×2’. Children knew exactly what was true so the teacher scrapped the lesson as they were ahead of where she thought they were. Learning partner talk was very impactful.
Prove it and convince me enabled children to explain their learning rather than the teacher telling them what they should know.
Example: Convince me that half of 12 is more than one third of 15’. Children knew half of 12 but not a third of third of 15. The teacher was then able to recap one third but did not cover one half.
Not telling children the LO but using questions to see if they could guess allowed children to determine the LO for themselves.
One question about factor pairs revealed that most children didn’t understand which made the teacher feel empowered to scrap the lesson plan and teach them what they needed.
Problem solving and reasoning skills are developing.
The question templates were sometimes used in next step marking and in grammar, pulling out specifics and extending reasoning skills.
One teacher used the odd one out to identify features of graphs: ‘Which is the odd one out – axes, title, triangle, scale etc.’ Some children said axes were to cut down trees (they were right!) and a title was what you used in literacy.
Different question types had been used each week – one question per week so that they could be explored in depth. Depth of questioning had improved and children have now become more confident to ask a range of questions.
One school had team taught each week to see how effective their questioning was and met as a staff to discuss questions. They are now more aware of open ended questions and pupil’s use of them.
One school had a ‘teach me’ tree with post it notes added by the children for questions they have. Their questions improved and planning was adapted because of these questions.
Discussion mats were used with statements which led to children staying longer to look at or discuss topics in maths.
The culture of questioning that it is ok to ask a question about anything has been developed.
‘True or false’ was used at the beginning of a geography unit. Students wrote their answers on card, the teacher collected them and is keeping them to see if later they would change their answers. She could tell which children knew the answer and who had misconceptions. True or false questions created excitement, engagement and developed students’ skills in articulating their thinking.
‘Where did I go wrong?’ and ‘What doesn’t belong?’ had been used successfully for math number talk. Students identified different ways to look at math. Starting at the end with an answer and asking what was the question forced students to find ways to solve the problem.
One teacher mixed up life cycle drawings and asked the students to ‘put in order’. This showed who already knew.
A successful opposing statement was ‘Good friends are always honest and tell the truth’.
Giving a math word problem and asking ‘What question could we ask?’ resulted in higher quality learning rather than trying to be first finished. This extended higher achievers and challenged all students.
True or false questions hooked students at the beginning of a lesson. Showing answers by holding up numbers of fingers also gave the teacher instant prior knowledge information.
‘What am I doing wrong’ worked well for PE and music lessons. Students had to think like a problem solver.
‘Convince me…’ was a good starter for paired discussion, revealing students’ thinking.