Question Paddles

7 Mar

I REALLY like it when my students ask questions, don’t I. Question Cards were for collaboration within themselves, but these Question Paddles are mostly for ME when I am lecturing.

This year, my Calculus class was incredibly difficult to read. They were from a program called Advantaged Plus which expects a whole lot from them and I think somewhere along the line they got scared of asking questions. Or maybe I got scarier? Or maybe they’re harder to read because I don’t know them as well?

Anyways, I tried to think of what it was that they could be asking me, because a lot of the time they simply don’t know what to ask. They start to get so lost that they don’t know what they don’t know anymore!

So I came up with these paddles for them to hold up:

I figure there were really two main questions to ask if they were getting lost- either to repeat what I said because they didn’t get it, or to slow it down.

It actually took me awhile to figure out what they meant by “go slower.” Do I talk too fast? Do I write too fast? Then I understood. In Calculus, I just skip work and do the Algebra way too fast.

The green one I threw in there just for kicks. Get it? Green, yellow, and sort-of-red for GO, SLOW, or STOP.

The kids seemed to love the idea when they first walked in and saw them. Some of them just because they thought it was cute. They don’t use it as much as I’d like BUT I do like them for two main reasons:

  1. You know when you ask after a long lecture, “any questions”? and you get hit by the overwhelming silence , even if you knew it was crazy talk you just did? With these, I simply ask them to hold up a GREEN for if they got it and are ready to move on, the YELLOW if they sort of get it but not as comfortably as they’d like, or the RED if they really had idea what I just said.
    This does WONDERS for me as I can get a quick gauge of how they felt about the content. They can also see that they were not alone in a sea of red sometimes.
  2. During my lecture, these silence the hyper inquisitive ones and allow the shy ones to be heard silently. If anything, I just like the fact that it reminds them of the questions they could ask, even if its just TWO very simple ones. =P

Anyways, this was a very new problem this year and one that caught me off guard. Normally, especially like my freshmen class, they can’t seem to STOP asking me questions. I hope this works! How else can I get them to keep asking questions?

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One Response to “Question Paddles”

  1. I Speak Math April 23, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Love your cards! I have two students that will always give me a red when everyone else will go green. This article “Classroom Strategies to Engender Student Questioning” has some great ideas. http://fno.org/toolbox.html

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