time to think

Talk prompts which enable children to express they're stuck

As well as providing talk prompts to help children express their ideas, I’ve noticed it’s also useful to have some that enable them to ask for thinking time or help.

So, I’ve developed some new prompts - examples shown here. Teachers have already fed back to me the difference these make during class discussion, with children now expressing that they need help rather than sitting with that worried “rabbit in the headlights” expression.

Children are realising it’s ok to say I need some help… and are asking for time to think rather than missing out on their opportunity to contribute.

These prompts change pupils’ status from passive to active learners.

Pupil talk prompt: I’m a bit confused about…
Pupil talk prompt: I’m not sure yet. Please can I have some time to think?

Tips for using lolly sticks

I wrote recently about the benefits of random selection over ‘hands up’.  Lolly sticks are a really simple way to randomly select children, but like anything they need to be used properly to ensure the intended positive outcome. Here are some tips:

A cup containing flat wooden sticks (‘lolly sticks’) with names on, one per child.

A cup containing flat wooden sticks (‘lolly sticks’) with names on, one per child.

  • ask the question before picking a stick out of the cup

  • use a variety of questions, not just recall

  • give children time to think, and jot

  • let children talk to a partner

  • always put back the sticks so that children know they may be asked again

  • use the sticks genuinely as they are intended (e.g. don’t use tricks such as colour coding to select specific children; if you really do want to occasionally ask a specific child, just ask them - no need for lolly sticks!)

  • always use lolly sticks positively, never punitively