Student Responses to Classroom Questioning

Teachers can use a variety of classroom questioning techniques to help students deepen their understanding of content, but the real power of the questioning process lies in student responses. As such, it is important that teachers develop, teach, and routinely use a variety of response types within the classroom to ensure that students are making progress toward the learning goals. 

In the book Questioning for Formative Feedback: Meaningful Dialogue to Improve Learning, author Jackie Acree Walsh shares the following four types of responses that may be incorporated in classroom (pp.144-151):

  1. Signaled responses. Gestures and actual hand-held signs are ways students indicate their level of understanding of content or their generalized response to questions. Technology can also be used to provide a signaled response to questions. 
  2. Work samples. Student-created artifacts in response to questions help teachers quickly assess understanding. Students can display their work sample on their desk while the teacher walks around the room examining the work. 
  3. Cooperative responses. Think-Pair-Share is a common cooperative response system used in many classrooms, and it is quite effective if students clearly understand the types of responses to be generated. Numbered Heads Together allows for larger groups than Think-Pair-Share and is best when the teacher generates a number of questions that require a response generated by consensus.  
  4. Response chaining. Students are asked to listen carefully to one another to decide whether they agree or disagree with the response given. If they are called on and agree, they must say why they agree and add more information to the response. If they disagree, they must state why and provide an alternate response. Response chaining offers tremendous opportunities for whole-class dialog regarding the content being studied. 

As you prepare for next week, think of ways you might incorporate these types of response opportunities into your classroom. You and your students will be glad you did!

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