The Importance of Think Time

I really enjoy the holiday breaks. The change of place and the change of pace give me opportunities to think, and when I have time to think I frequently solve problems that have been lingering and bring creative ideas into fruition. 

Think time is also important in your classroom when you are asking questions of your students. In the book Questioning for Formative Feedback: Meaningful Dialogue to Improve Learning, author Jackie Acree Walsh notes the following four benefits of extended think time for students (pp. 49-52):

  1. Student responses are often longer and more complete. Think of it this way: if you want a short answer, give a short think time. If you want a longer answer, give a longer think time.  
  2. Students provide more evidence for their responses. The extra time allows students to gather their thoughts, organize their evidence, and present a rational response. 
  3. Responding students often engage in higher levels of thinking. Time allows for deeper probing of thinking. Metacognition increases student learning.  
  4. Students more frequently self-correct. Time allows students to critically examine their initial thoughts and responses, and it gives them opportunities to right their incorrect responses before presenting. 

As you prepare for next week, think about how you might increase think time (3-5 seconds) after questioning students. You and your students will be glad you did!

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