TMNE10: Answering questions

Context: Teachmeet Northeast took place on Thursday 9th December. Each day I’m blogging about one thing I learned at the event.

One of the most inspiring and most interactive presentations was about encouraging students to ask and answer questions. Half the room stood in a circle, facing out, and the other half stood in a larger circle, facing in. Each person had one person opposite and we were each given a card with a simple question (with no right / wrong answers) and 3 prompts.

One person asked the question (we had Christmas themed questions, e.g. what kind of food do you eat at Christmas?) and the opposite person tried to answer the question as best they could. Those with confidence can talk at length. Those who are less confident can be helped out with the prompts.

After the first round we were asked to tell each other how we felt about our role – either answering the question or about listening to the answer. As a listener in the first round I found it quite a responsibility to show that I was listening – nodding, making appropriate noises, etc.

Next everyone on the outside moved one place around the circle. This meant I had a new partner and a new question – but my neighbour had my previous question. This meant that while I was answering a question all of my own, I could hear how my neighbour was answering the question I had just been looking at.

The aim of the procedure is to encourage the quiet and the shy to practice speaking. It also forces everyone to think about how it feels to have to answer. As a teacher we’re not often put in this position – but students are on a daily, if not hourly, basis. I can see this being a great pastoral tool to use with my mixed ability form that has a range of students from the very talkative to the terminally shy. I can also see it being a useful revision exercise.

Hopefully I’ve one the description justice. Suffice to say it’s a good enough idea (IMO) that I’m planning to use it in my PSHE observation in January.

Image attribution: Why Originally uploaded by Tintin44 – Sylvain Masson

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