Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fried Questions: The Question Slip

Part of transitioning to being the "guide on the side" is helping students become more reliant on each other and themselves than on you (the teacher). The Question Slip is a great option to wean students off your nurturing care and help them become more self and team reliant. Here's how it works, after ALLLL the directions are given, and you have asked many times if there are any more questions, and every hand has gone down, you hand out THE QUESTION SLIP, perhaps two per team. When I first tried this technique, I made a ton of copies and meticulously cut them all apart expecting to use many pages of slips per day. I handed them out, with a bit of trepidation but a lot of hope. Throughout the day, I waited to receive a returned question slip . . . but it almost never happened. In fact, I don't think I ever made another set of copies in my teaching career. However, I heard lots of great conversations, like this one (fictionalized with truthiness):

Albert: "Hey, I need you guys to sign this. I've got to as Mrs. Mayer a question!"
Marie: "Seriously? WHAT do you need to ask?"
Albert: "I need to know how long this needs to be. I mean like do we have to do three pages for four or ten or, like, what?"
Marie: "Dude! She told us that like FOUR times! It's as long as we need it to be! The grade comes from the rubric, not from how long it is! SIT DOWN. We ain't signing that slip!"

Of course Marie says these things with all the love and care of a classmate, but the best part of it is that Marie says it and not Mrs. Mayer. The only potential downside to Question Slips is the possible perception on the part of parents that you do not want to help their students. Reassure them that this is NOT the case. Students have time EACH DAY in whole group to ask any questions about ANY thing; however, question slips do help students become more self-reliant and are part of learning to work independently.

Please, even if you don't think this will work, trust me and give it a try. It changed my life as a teacher and after a time or two, I didn't need the slips because kids got it. Thinking for themselves was ok---even desirable, and this little slip of paper was all they needed to help them realize that they had what they needed ALL the time.

© Amy Mayer, @friEdTechnology, The Original WOW! Academy www.friEdTechnology.com Please copy and use freely!

Get the Question Slip file in Google Doc form here.


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