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The School Improvement Specialists
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Tips from the Field: Student Answering

JP is privileged to work with a wide variety of schools.  Key to our approach is the development of strong and trusting coaching relationships with the staff of our partner schools.  We want everyone comfortable with asking questions and participating in two way discussions.  Recently, Dan Link, School Improvement Specialist, had such a conversation with one of the teachers he is coaching.  The teacher was curious about students raising hands to volunteer answers.

Dan’s response is drawn from the work of Anita Archer’s “Explicit Instruction and Efficient Teaching.”

For individual response questions, the practice of calling on volunteers should be limited, so that all students are engaged in the lesson. A simple guideline can be applied:

  • When the answer comes from information that you (the teacher) has presented or from material that students have read, don’t invite students to volunteer, because all students should be expected to have an answer. You choose.
  • However, if the answer comes from the students’ own experiential backgrounds, request that students volunteer for responding. This practice of only calling on volunteers, when the answer comes from students’ personal background knowledge or experiences, significantly reduces the number of volunteer responses requested in a lesson.

Do you have a strategy you want to share? Let us know.

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