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Lolly sticks etc

http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/stick-pick/id436682059?mt=8

If you are into lolly sticks for random questioning in class and own an iPhone or iPad, you might find the above app useful. In our school a few teachers have opted for lolly sticks and seem happy to use them. We have not yet done so in MFL lessons, although we have embraced the intermittent use of no hands up. If you are not familiar with lolly sticks you have a mug of them with pupils' names on and choose them at random when doing questioning.

Other approaches to random questioning include electronic name generators and allocating pupils numbers when they enter the room and calling numbers for answers.

I have to say that I am not a big fan of totally random questioning for language lessons. I understand the theory that we should have the same expectation of all students and that students need to be challenged and ready to respond at any time, but I also believe that as teachers we should be using our skill and knowledge of our students to pitch questions at an appropriate level. This is sensible differentiation. Each student can be challenged at their own level and we know all too well how great the variability is in language learning aptitude.

Furthermore, language learning is a challenging and even threatening task for some pupils and part of our job is to make students feel comfortable about the process. No hands up may add to the discomfort.

In addition, we have found that random questioning can slow down the pace of lessons.

We have therefore maintained a balance of hands up, which keeps up pace and encourages the keenest and most able, while also using no hands up at times for differentiation and to keep students on their toes.

As for other AfL fashions, well, we like mini whiteboards for all the obvious reasons, but we have, as yet, not been tempted by traffic light systems such as coloured cups, though one or two other departments at our school have.

If you have not come across the traffic light system, this is a way of knowing at any stage whether pupils are understanding the work. They have three cups (red, amber and green) and place the appropriate cup at the top of their pile depending on how well they are following. Green = understanding fully, amber = partially understanding, red = not understanding.

Other traffic light systems are available.

I reckon that if we used those coloured beakers during question-answer work we would be potentially facing a class of second rate Tommy Coopers.

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