Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Never Say Anything a Kid Can Say

Ever had one of these days?
After a great deal of planning, I presented a masterpiece of a lesson.  The next day, it became obvious: my students were totally confused.
If so, check out this article by Steve Reinhart (2000): “Never Say Anything a Kid Can Say!”.

My definition of a good teacher changed from "one who explains things so well that students understand" to "one who gets students to explain things so well that they can be understood."

For any fellow teacher-educators who view this, here's the home workshop I used to scaffold the discussion of this article, plus a few highlights from my students' post-workshop reflections.

Workshop: “Never say anything a kid can say!”                                          
Goal: TLW explore how asking questions can support learning.

Activate Schema:
1.       You will read an article about questioning. Here’s a paraphrased quote from the opening paragraph:

After a great deal of planning, I presented a masterpiece of a lesson.  I worked examples, I answered every question in great detail, and I explained the concepts so clearly that surely every student understood.

a.       Who was doing most of the thinking in the lesson? Is that a good thing? Why or why not?

b.      The next sentence in the article reads: “The next day, it became obvious: my students were totally confused.” Does that surprise you? Why or why not?

The ideas in the following chart are from a blog called “The Joy of Literacy”:

Type of thinking
Student action

“STOP” questions
Stop and think about what you know
What if.., I wonder why..,
What would happen if.., Why would..,
How could.., Why do you think..?
“SLOW DOWN” questions
Slow down, look in more than one place, explore connections
How are.. and.. similar?
What caused..?
What are some examples of..?
“GO” questions
Go directly to the text to find the answer
Who, what, where, when, how?

2.       Which type of question do find easiest? Which do you find most difficult? Why do you think that is?

Activity: Read the article: “Never Say Anything a Kid Can Say! by Reinhart (2000) at and then answer the following questions. As you read, highlight things that you want to remember or learn more about.

3.       (GO) How does the author define what he means by a “good question”?

a.       (SLOW DOWN) What are some of the small changes the author says he implemented over time?

b.      (STOP) Why do you think the teacher’s questioning strategies might enhance student learning?

4.       Create 3 new questions that get at important information in the article and answer them. You will have an opportunity to share your questions at our next meeting.

Your question
Your answer



Reflect and share: Three things I want to remember from the article “Never say anything a kid can say” are…



Please post your #1 “thing to remember” to our Facebook group.

A few highlights from the students' reflections on Facebook:
  • Remember to listen. While listening, a teacher is able to learn what the student does/doesn't know.
  • Sometimes we see teaching as us always doing the talking and them listening but this article showed how it works the other way around.
  • Patience is very important... Many students stop thinking if the teacher is consistently calling on the [quick thinkers] who always seem to have their hand up first. I remember in elementary school I had all the right abilities but my thinking process was not as fast, so I never got the opportunity to share my thoughts.
  • I want to remember to have open questions that challenge the students!
  • One thing I want to take with me is to be able to teach better each year.
  • I love the idea of asking good open ended questions instead of saying if they got the answer right. I never thought about it before, but we do stop thinking after we have our answer.
  • One thing was that by changing the way he addressed students, the teacher was able to change the students' involvement in the class.
  • Use more process questions rather than product questions. Students need to reflect, analyze, and explain rather than go back in their memory and reproduce facts.

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