“Good learning starts with questions, not answers.” Guy Claxton

Did you know?

  • Teachers ask up to two questions every minute, up to 400 in a day, around 70,000 a year, or two to three million in the course of a career
  • Questioning accounts for up to a third of all teaching time, second only to the time devoted to explanation

Questions serve many purposes. They can help pupils to reflect, develop thinking skills, encourage discussion and stimulate new ideas. Questions allow teachers to determine how much a class understands and enable them to pitch lessons at an appropriate level, and plan the next stages in learning.

But, when observing lessons, I often see questions rushed, and on average teachers’ questions are answered in a second or less (not my observations, research completed by London G&T).  I often use the pose – pause – pounce – bounce method for questions, and have done so for many years now, but the issue is still that once the first student is ‘pounced’ on, they have altered the thinking of their classmates, and the subsequent ‘bounces’ don’t always create the debate I would hope for.

So when we went 1:1, it was with great excitement that we made our first core app – Socrative.  For those that don’t know, Socrative is a questioning app that enables teachers to get responses from the whole class.  It works as 2 different apps – the teacher version where questions are planned and posed, and the student one where they receive and answer the questions.

soc teachersoc student

Each teacher has an online classroom where questions are either pre-planned or where they can be run as and when the teacher feels alongside other resources such as a Keynote or Powerpoint presentation.  Students simply enter the code for their teachers classroom, and then the teacher decides when to ask questions.  A good tip here is to get students to write your class code/name in the front cover of their books so that they can log in quickly each time you want to use it.

The immediate beauty of this is that you are finding out responses from all students, rather than one student at a time.  It allows you to really understand the learning and progress that has happened during that lesson, and to then plan next steps accordingly. One lesson I observed, the teacher ran a quiz as a plenary and they observed the responses coming in live.  It was obvious that 90% class all had misunderstood one point, and the teacher was able to plan and re-shape the lesson accordingly.  In another lesson, I actually observed the teacher export the quiz results at the end, and than use that as a discussion point with the class, helping them to understand mistakes and develop that all important meta-cognition.  The other beauty is that quizzes can be pre -made with the answers built in, and shared to other staff to save teacher time and effort.  Some good examples of quizzes for Science and Maths can be found here:

https://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storyCode=6193929 – Science

https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/socrative-quiz-bank-6398266 – Maths and Others

However, in my previous post, I discussed the SAMR model, and in some cases I have seen the Socrative quizzes simply being used as a substitute for a worksheet.  Whilst there is nothing wrong with this, it does have the danger of switching students off if overused in this way.

The real power of Socrative for me however, is when staff use it as an exit ticket to tell the teacher what, and how much they have learnt and progressed in that lesson.  Socrative has its own pre-made exit ticket:

1) How well did you understand today’s material? (Multiple Choice)
2)What did you learn today? (Open Response)
3) Please answer your teacher’s question (Your opportunity to ask and capture any question you’d like)

But it is easy to make your own, some of my favourites are Tweet it (Students summarise learning as a tweet of 140 characters) or Keep-Grow-Change.  Dead easy to do, quick to set up, and fantastic ways of reviewing learning.

The other advantage of Socrative is that it works on any Internet enabled device, laptops, mobile phones, so it can be easily used in any classroom. Why not give it a try!

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