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Student Engagement

3 Ways to Ask Questions That Engage the Whole Class


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这可能是教育工作者试图与一个充满学生的房间交往的最常见问题之一:“谁能告诉我?”尽管它可能以不同的形式出现 - “有人知道答案吗?” - 结果是相同的:通常只有少数学生举手,他们的回答是衡量整个班级进度的晴雨表。

Of course, those responses can be misleading, lulling teachers into believing that all of their students are learning when they aren’t. Luckily, there are far more effective ways to check for understanding, ways that allow all students to process and respond to teacher prompts. The three simple techniques here can help teachers structure their lessons so that all students are required to actively demonstrate their learning.

Chalkboard Splash

The Chalkboard Splash gives teachers a peek into the minds of students when they respond in writing to a particular prompt. The effectiveness of this technique relies on the creation of a deep and meaningful prompt that captures the big ideas behind the content being presented. For example, instead of asking for the definition of capitalism, a question for which all students would be expected to give similar responses, a teacher might ask, “What are some challenges that you could see developing within societies that embrace capitalism?”


  • The teacher should prepare a higher-order prompt that captures a major element of the lesson.
  • 在课堂上,老师要求学生在笔记或单独的纸上写下他们的回答。
  • To make sure that this activity doesn’t take up too much time, students then pare their responses down to 15 words or less. They then grab a piece of chalk or a whiteboard marker, and write that short response on a designated area of the board.

Unlike a verbal question, the Chalkboard Splash guides all students to process and share their responses to an important question at the same time—they can’t just wait for that one student who always raises their hand. In our experience, even students who are disengaged will actively think about the content and make connections as required by the higher-order prompt.


If teachers are really seeking to engage their students, there should be plenty of opportunities for student talk. The Appointment Agendas technique allows teachers to quickly pair students to discuss a question by simply calling out a time of day. This strategy also requires that students get out of their seats, making this a wonderful vehicle for tying movement to learning.


  • The teacher gives each student a copy of anAppointment Agenda.
  • The teacher asks students to create “appointments” for each time slot on their Appointment Agenda. If a student makes an appointment with a peer for 8 a.m., both of the students should write each other’s names in the slot for 8 a.m.
  • Students continue making appointments with different peers, with none appearing more than once, until all of the slots are filled.

当需要将学生配对时,老师可以随机召集时间 - 不必与实际时间相匹配 - 并要求学生与他们的约会伙伴讨论提示。例如,老师可能会说:“请与您的下午3点见面。预约并讨论您对提示的回应。”


Pause, Star, Rank

暂停,明星,浇筑que guides students to process their thinking by reviewing and analyzing content they’ve been taught. This technique works particularly well when a large volume of content has been presented—for example, after a two-week unit on the American Revolution, or a three-day sequence of lessons on the impacts of climate change on the world’s oceans. It’s a great wrap-up activity and a useful way to pause and review dense content before it becomes overwhelming for students.


  • 在课程或一系列课程结束时,老师要求学生迅速浏览笔记,并将明星放在他们认为重要的概念上。
  • Next, the teacher asks students to rank and label their top three starred items according to perceived importance.
  • Finally, the teacher asks students to either do a Chalkboard Splash with their most important concept or to discuss their number one item with a designated Appointment Agenda classmate.

It often seems that the most natural way to try and engage a classroom full of students is by defaulting to the question “Who can tell me?” or a variant of it. However, this question provides teachers with a very limited snapshot of student understanding, and those students who are most likely to need help, who have deep misunderstandings, or who are in the process of learning English are the ones who are unintentionally left out of the conversation.

A better way to gauge students’ understanding is to embed techniques that ensure that all students are engaged and interacting with the content that matters most in any given lesson.


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  • Student Engagement
  • 形成性评估
  • Teaching Strategies


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