‘Quick wins’ #1 – Question tokens.
First in a series of posts about quick wins in the classroom. The aim of these posts is to provide teachers with ideas that can be tried in their classroom with minimal preparation time.
Why? I wanted students to become more independent and rely less on me for help. Quite often I see students giving up too easily and going to the teacher for help rather than persevering with a problem. I’ve also noticed that students ask a lot of lazy questions (when they can ask an unlimited amount of questions) without any real thought behind them.
Possible solution? Question tokens. I gave each student three question tokens and set 2 rules for the entirety of the lesson:
1. You can only ask the teacher 3 questions throughout today’s lesson.
2. You can ask each other as many questions as you like.
Question tokens (Download for free – please share with colleagues)
Outcome. I tried this with a year 11 GCSE Computing class who were working through some programming challenges. The question tokens encouraged students to seek advice from their peers and if this led to a dead end, they had to research a possible answer using the Internet or come up with a well thought out question to ask me. I witnessed the students demonstrating more GRIT then in previous lessons as they appeared to be quite precious of the question tokens – they would rather struggle through a problem and find a solution themselves then ask me for help. Quite remarkable!
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Feedback. Please let us know how ‘question tokens’ worked for you. Leave a comment on this post or tweet us at @nslhub.
I tried a similar thing with my year 7s! It was slightly different as I had them in groups of 4/5 and gave each group 5 tokens. There was one student in each group who was the ‘token master’. At the end of the lesson, the group with the most tokens would get a reward.
It worked really well! They were forced to discuss with each other whether the question they wanted to ask was worth giving up a token for and there was even exchange of info for tokens between groups! Was really good to see conversations going on about the decision making process AND got them talking/thinking about the task more & working as a team
Thanks for the feedback! It’s really useful to hear how you have used the idea with groups. Was there a noticeable difference before / after implementing the idea in class in terms of students working more interdependently?
Yes it really made them think about the types of questions they were asking… will be interesting over a longer period of time!
Used it with three classes yesterday and it worked very well. Again, as teacherofscience says, it does make students think about the questions they are asking. Think it’s important to emphasise that with them – that you are trying to stop “lazy” questions. I also think it works well within a rubric such as “The 4 B’s” since it supports all four parts of that. My students also had specific YouTube playlists available to support them, so there was no excuse for poor self reliance!
I tried this with three groups yesterday and it worked very well. As teacherofscience says, it does make them think about the types of questions they are asking. Think it is important that they fully understand that principle. I think this idea would support a rubric like ‘The 4 B’s’ very well. My students all had access to specific YouTube playlists that gave them an extra source of information that could be used to support them, and I noticed that most of the questions I was asked were focussed on students extending their learning and not about repeating instructions. Great idea!
I used this with a student on the SEN register who asks many questions every lesson distracting herself and others. She used four out of five which I was really pleased with. We will continue…
Fantastic! Do you think you’ll slowly reduce the number of tokens? Thanks for the feedback – appreciate your time!
Amazing idea! I used this with my AS level PE group. It made them realise how much they rely on me and ultimately how much they know!
Best moment was a girl going next door to get a dictionary in a quest to spell purkinje correctly!
Can’t recommend it enough!
Oh and they practiced questions, in order to not lose a token too cheaply!
Thanks for the feedback Joe – glad it helped make a difference!