Encore for the Mighty Question Slip
We first introduced the Question Slip in 2011. When I learned about the technique from a Canadian conference presenter (if anyone knows who, please let me know! I can’t recall), I quickly found that more than any other simple technique it transformed my students into self-motivated learners.
One idea to make sure Question Slips become effective in your classroom is to have “free question time” each day with your students. If you are using a project-based approach, you may begin class with directions & clarifications based on the day before, immediately followed by the free question period. Questions will almost always peter out after a few minutes. You may quickly find what I did, that the class was silent, students were hanging on my every word and taking notes instead of just waiting a few minutes to have all the directions repeated over and over again to them individually. What a change!
Another piece of advice, stick to it STRICTLY when you are using Question Slips. Do not answer ANY questions, no matter how tempted you may be, after free question time is over. Give each team several Question Slips, after all, it’s NOT that you don’t want students asking questions, it’s that you want them asking THOUGHTFUL & MEANINGFUL questions, not “Can I go to the bathroom?” If you strictly adhere to the Question Slip policy, you will be free to wander the room, observe team discussions, reteach and clarify as YOU choose. You will find that students are having great realizations that you never anticipated because you are not constantly intervening and directing. This role will help you transform into what we call a Learning Guide. Remember that old saying, “be the guide on the side not the sage on the stage”? This simple technique may help you transform into the Guide on the Side you hope to be.
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