Students ask questions all the time. And very often, you feel obliged to respond to their questions. You will probably: ‘It’s my job to answer students’ questions’ or ‘If I don’t respond, they may get wrong answers from other people’.
You are not alone as many teachers would think the same way. And it’s not a bad thing to feel that it is your responsibility to ensure that learning takes place in the classroom and that students get the best information and knowledge from the teachers.
However, education experts have for many years been saying that students themselves can be a great source of information and knowledge. They come to class from different backgrounds and each brings their unique experiences into the learning process. It’s wise to make good use of and derive benefits from students’ vast store of knowledge.
When you make optimal use of what students know and use this to increase student learning, you are using a modern pedagogy known as student-centred learning. In student-centred learning, the teacher continues to play an important role but they are well aware that learning should involve student participation in the classroom much as possible.
So a cooperative learning technique such as Ask 3 Then me can be an excellent tool to promote student-centred learning. This technique simply means that the student is encouraged to direct their questions to three other students before they ask the teacher.
The easy access to technology today also makes it possible for students to find their answers on the Internet. So instead of or in addition to asking their classmates, they can turn to the Internet for answers.
Do note, however, when working with children, teachers should provide clear guidelines so that students access credible and safe resources. For example, when students need to check the meaning of unfamiliar words, they can be directed to trustworthy and authoritative online dictionaries such as Cambridge or Macmillan Dictionary (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/learner-english/ or https://www.macmillandictionary.com/about.html).
Next time a student raises their hand and asks a question, you can try the Ask 3 Then me technique:
- Ask yourself and try to figure out the answer
- Ask a buddy, if you need to
- Ask another buddy if you need to or go to the Internet to get/check the answer
- Then, ask the me if you still can’t find the answer
A poster of the Ask 3 Then me can be pinned on the classroom wall. This way, the teacher can just point to the poster when students ask questions.
When used regularly, this technique can decrease students’ reliance on their teacher and they can begin to take charge of their own learning.
Jacobs, G. M., Renandya, W. A., & Power, M. (2016). Simple, powerful strategies for student centered learning. Springer International Publishing.
Jacobs, G. M., & Renandya, W. A. (2019). Student Centered Cooperative Learning: Linking Concepts in Education to Promote Student Learning. Springer International Publishing.
Useful video link: https://tinyurl.com/rqmqaq5