Reflection: Trust and Respect Mixtures: Characteristic Properties - Liquid Identification - Section 4: Discovery Activity

 

Whole class Q&A is all about relationships.  Done incorrectly, Q&A can divide the class, break trust with students, and create an unsafe learning environment.  And yet, despite these dangers, this is one of the most common teaching practices used.  I think that teachers often forget what it feels like to be on the other end of a Q&A session.  

Imagine that you are in a class taught by the person that you respect and revere the most.  As you sit in class listening eagerly, the teacher suddenly asks you a question.  For a moment your mind goes blank.  The teacher makes an annoyed sound and implies that you weren't listening.  You have an answer in your brain, but now you lose confidence, you don't want to be wrong in front of everyone in the class.  The teacher tells you you have to answer.  Now you are embarrassed and afraid.  You thought that the teacher liked you and now she's embarrassed you in front of everyone.  You look down at your desk and try to appear invisible.  

The terrible thing is that the teacher probably didn't even realize that this was going on.  She was probably just trying to move the class along and get the right answer. But it happened anyway and at the very least this student is going to worry and feel anxious in class and that's not good for learning.  

Here are some things you can do to ensure that Q& A doesn't lead to hurt feelings and embarrassment.

1.  Use name sticks to call on students randomly.  THis ensures that the students don't feel on picked on.

2.  Give the students time to think first.  I like to ask the question and then let students talk to each other before I pick a stick.  In this way every student gives and answer and engages in the learning.

3.  Don't force a student to answer.  If a student doesn't know the answer don't make them guess.  Instead give them respectable outs like being able to "phone a friend".  Another great way to include a student that doesn't know the answer is to tell them you will poll the class and then come back to get their answer. 

4.  Create a community where it is OK to be wrong.  Model being wrong and rethinking often so students can see that you are a learner as well.

5.  Let students have bad days.  If a student is having a bad day, don't make it worse by forcing answers in public.  Instead give some socratic support and let them have a victory.

  Managing Q&A
  Trust and Respect: Managing Q&A
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Mixtures: Characteristic Properties - Liquid Identification

Unit 8: Mixtures: Characteristic Properties
Lesson 7 of 11

Objective: Students will be able to use density to identify which substances are the same.

Big Idea: Density is a characteristic property.

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Subject(s):
Science, density, solids, liquid, gas, mixture, property
  57 minutes
colored liquids
 
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