* Q is for quizzing

help-146370_640Blogging A-Z: Q is for quizzing.  I’m not talking about pop quizzes or end of grade tests.  You don’t know what I mean?  Listen….

What is something like tests?  Yes, like EOGs.  Yes, like questions.  Anyone else?  No?  I’m thinking about how we might start a new topic.  Yes, we talk about it.  Well, it’s more than that.  It starts with the letter Q.  No, we already said it wasn’t questions.  Hmm, that’s close.  Quizzes!  Yes, yes, but I’m thinking of more.  Can you think of a different ending for that word?  I mean the word ‘quiz.’  What’s an ending for the word ‘quiz?’

If you’re still reading, you must be wondering what I am doing.  I am introducing a topic (in this case, “Why Teachers Should Not Use Questioning to Introduce Topics”) by quizzing or questioning my audience.  Instead of laying a foundation for a topic, I am challenging my students to figure out what we are doing and where we’re going.  I must be thinking that this is a good way to engage the class.  I must figure that all those responses indicate that my class is with me as we launch a topic.  Maybe I think this “guess my topic” approach is intriguing and entertaining.  But quizzing is NOT an effective way to begin a topic.  Here’s why.  I am wasting valuable instructional time playing 21 Questions when the kids could already understand where we are.  Their brains have lost a unique opportunity to put this lesson in some context, which is vital for recall.  By the time we’ve played my quizzing game, I have lost their initial interest, the kids are frustrated at their inability to answer my questions, and their brains are all over the map (if they are still attentive at all).

There is a place for quizzing and questioning, but it’s not in guessing our topic.  Save the questions to find out what kids already know about a topic and what they would like to learn.  Capture their interest with authentic discussions, not “read my mind” games.

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