This is the second post in the new series I’m introducing on The Cornerstone called Real Teachers, Real Tips. Each month, I’ll invite one educator to share a few classroom management tips that have worked in his or her classroom.
This unique publication explores the potential benefits, pitfalls, future trends and learning outcomes for 10 hot topics in education, providing you with a warts-and-all view of how they can impact a school and, ultimately, the learning experience of the pupil.
Questioning is a fundamental element of pedagogy, one you could read endlessly around, but the reality is using questioning to challenge and engage all learners is demanding and potentially problematic to get right. Recently I’ve been working with a team of teachers, shaping our CPD model in preparation for the new academic year. Engaging in dialogue around teaching and learning with colleagues is always a pleasure and extremely informative, and one aspect continually crops up; deep, challenging and engaging questioning. Firstly, I think it’s crucial to outline what we are trying to achieve when we think about the purpose of questioning, for me it includes the following:
* Allowing students to develop a fuller understanding of a concept because they have tried to explain it themselves * To easily recall existing knowledge * To be able to link the ideas in the lesson with existing knowledge * To tackle problems at a deep level and be able to extend their thinking * To engage easily with a task because they are clear about what is expected * To develop independence in the way they learn and think
Just because young people are functionally very capable, doesn’t mean they always have the criticality to appraise the wealth of information available. English teacher Jennifer Wilson discusses how critical thinking and digital literacy need to go hand-in-hand.
"See Mrs. Jones. She has a fantastic idea for a new assignment. It’s going to be challenging and engaging and fun. Before she can give this assignment to her students, Mrs. Jones needs to get a few things on paper. She starts by writing up a prompt. See Mrs. Jones smile as her fingers fly across the keyboard, crafting the language that describes what students will do.
Then it’s time to build a rubric. Watch as Mrs. Jones creates an empty table with four columns – one for each level of proficiency – and five rows that break down the areas that will be assessed. Four rows, five columns. Mrs. Jones prepares to fill all twenty cells.
See Mrs. Jones slump down in her chair.
If you’re like Mrs. Jones, you rely on densely packed analytic rubrics to assess student work. But creating these rubrics – trying to imagine every possible scenario that will result in an assignment being labeled as a 1, 2, 3 or 4, or whatever terminology might stand for those numbers – can be both soul-crushing and time-consuming.
Then, when it comes time to assess student work, you’re likely to find many assignments that don’t fit neatly into any one column.
What’s worse, others demonstrate qualities you didn’t even anticipate, like the student who spelled everything perfectly but was lax on punctuation. Your “mechanics” section doesn’t have a place for that.
And do students even read these rubrics? Having been on the receiving end of multi-page, multi-cell rubrics stuffed to the gills with 9-point font, I would say no. I did not read all of those cells. I looked at the third and fourth columns, where expectations met and exceeded expectations were described, and I did everything I could to make my work satisfy those criteria. The other two columns got little more than a glance."...
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