Every math teacher has used this phrase while teaching. If you are like me, you likely use it 15 times an hour. For math teachers, this phrase is a crucial way for us to determine if our students really understand what it is they are supposed to be doing.
However, I recently read an article about using a Question and Answer format while teaching by Petra Claflin for Edutopia. Claflin suggests that often teachers solicit students for answers during the modeling stage of direct instruction. Unfortunately, this can, at times, cause more harm than good to student understanding – numerous incorrect responses are provided when students scramble to answer too early. We then expect all students to be able to sift from their memory only the correct responses and piece them together to understand a complex process or concept. In all likelihood, the incorrect steps are more memorable than the correct ones!
How then can we continue with Q&A teaching, despite its downfalls? Afterall, in large classes it is the quickest form of formative assessment. Claflin provides teachers with five tips to avoid the downfalls to question and answer instruction. My personal favorite is assigning a student to monitor YOUR question-asking during the introduction of a concept. This directs student focus towards watching you model, while ensuring that they are involved in the lesson by monitoring your language closely.
Read Claflin’s entire article here.