Does That Make Sense? Prove It.

Have you ever stood at the front of the room waiting for confirmation that a concept made sense and you get blank stares (or bobbing heads back)? You have to trust that the information somehow got in there and will be usable by the student later. Don’t ever trust. Always make your students prove the information went in, by making them bring it back out again. Instead of asking, “does that make sense?” ask your students to, “sketch their answer”. I prefer giving out index cards (3″x5″ file cards). This way they don’t have to feel nervous about putting a wrong answer in their workbook. If they like the card, they can keep it. If they don’t, they can toss it in the recycle bin on their way out.

Participants: personal, seated activity

Materials: index cards or scrap paper torn into quarters (smaller pieces of paper are less intimidating).

Activity: instead of calling on a single student to answer a question, have everyone answer the question on an index card. After a brief period of time (1-2 minutes), ask if anyone would like to share their answer. I like asking for drawings as well as written answers. I especially like asking for the opposite mode of whatever I’ve given. e.g. if I used words, ask them to think of a shape or draw an animal that represents the concept (add words to explain the connection). It forces the student beyond straight memory when they have to think of the attributes of the question and represent them in a different way.

Anticipated outcome: If the students can not formulate the information by their own hand (through drawing or writing), they are more likely to realize they don’t know the answer and ask for clarifying information. Then, when you’re drawing on the class to read out their answers, you can affirm what the right answer is, allowing others to correct their own written answer if necessary.