Techniques for making the best of students wrong answers
[Observe a lesson with me, and get ready to give the teacher some constructive feedback]
At this school the common language used in the classroom is English. We note that the teacher speaks English about half of the time, and uses French when she is teaching the French words. Perhaps French is not her native language, but she’s good at it.
The teacher turns on the projector and twenty French words are projected onto the white board. The class hushes as they visually take in the words that are in this exercise.
“I want English translations of these words”, the teacher instructs.
Each of the words is displayed one by one. The teacher says the word out loud, and uses it in a simple sentence. This gives the students but a short time, about 10 seconds, to guess the translation to English. The teacher takes out a square of paper from a box she is holding and calls a student’s name, turning to that student she indicates “Say it now!”.
During the next twelve minutes we hear three kinds of answers, according to the observation that we are making, that reveal the teacher's technique for dealing with students answers.
Vacant answer e.g. “dunno”, teacher simply moves on to next word on the list. She comes back to the word later in the exercise once all the words have been shown.
Wrong answer, the teacher investigates the connection with curiosity and humour, “How did you come to that?”, “What’s the connection you made?”, “Where does that word come from?”, “What inspired you to say that?”.
Right answer, the teacher says “Mias oui.”. Sometimes she asks first “How did you come to that?” (exactly as her responses for the wrong answer)
In all cases the right answer, i.e. the English translation and the French words are then shown on the board. The teacher then asks the class as a whole about the possible connections between French word and English word.
Using guessing, humour and curiosity again. “How might these two words be connected?”, “What’s the connection?”, “What’s a way to connect these?”. And then the teacher moves on quickly to the next French word, allowing students just enough time to write down the English words if they need to.
What feedback would you give this teacher?
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Teacher, facilitator and coach; Martin Richards trains educators to use a coaching approach all the work they do.