When Does A Prompt Become Giving The Answer?

This is something I’ve always struggled with, especially with those students from whom getting an answer is a bit like getting the proverbial blood from the stone. You’re so desperate to get them to participate that you end up spoon feeding them, making the whole experience soul destroying, both for them and for you. You leave the interaction feeing deflated and as though actually you didn’t really achieve anything, and I’m sure the student probably feels the same.

Then a couple of weeks ago I came across a piece of research on using cue cards as a way of eliciting pupil responses. Always one to jump into something both feet first, a production line was begun! Laminating pouches, photocopying and key rings at the ready I produced the cards on mass. A brief training session with my support staff resulted in great hilarity and, as always, great enthusiasm; we were on our way.

Two weeks on and I can’t believe the difference: we’re prompting less because students have the simple visual reminder in front of them to cue them into the type of answer (place, person, time, emotion, speech, action, ending or consequence) that we’re looking for, the quality (and quantity) of written work has increased dramatically  because students have a consistent and expected framework to work within and some students have even started using their keyrings independently to ask questions of others about their weekends. Even my GCSE students are loving their new planning aid. What’s more an unexpected bonus has been that my workload has decreased, no longer am I constantly creating writing frames, we have our structure to work within, and we’re all loving it.

So if you haven’t tried cue cards before, why not give them a go? Let us know how you get on and what other uses you find for them, I guarantee once you’ve started, you’ll want to keep using them – what’s more so will your students!

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