Our region has been working on formative feedback and assessment and looking closely at the work of Dylan Wiliam, in preparation for his visit to us in October. I like Dylan Wiliam’s work as, to me, an awful lot of it just seems to make sense. However, I was intrigued about his claim of the difference we can make to learning by not using the traditional “hands up” approach when asking questions in class. I had never really thought about the smart kids getting smarter as they’re being continually engaged but the less smart kids becoming less engaged and the gap actually widening. I toyed with this a little last year but, sad to say, I forgot about it at the beginning of this year. It probably didn’t help that I am now in the class teaching only two days each week.
On the first day of this term I ran a session for our staff on formative feedback and assessment and showed some of Dylan Wiliam’s video clips. It dawned on me that it was a bit hypocritical to be advocating some fo these techniques if I wasn’t modelling them well myself. Since then I have had a “no hands up” policy in my classroom, after explaining to my students why we needed to give it a try.
I can honestly say that I’ve seen a significant difference in my class. They all know that they are going to be asked a question at least once and that I am happy to wait for an answer. There is no escape! I combined this with consciously increasing my wait time and it has been so gratifying to have some of the more reluctant or less confident students answering more willingly and thinking more carefully about responding, where previously I may have received a distinct “Don’t know”.
Just in the last two days we have had some wonderfully interesting and thought-provoking discussion on Inanimate Alice (including thoughts about loneliness, home-schooling and religious differences and discrimination) and cybersafety. Some of the students have astounded me with their depth of thought.
Have you ever tried this with your students? I’d definitely recommend trying it – you may be very surprised by the results.
cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by mag3737: http://flickr.com/photos/mag3737/2289757349/