Helping to elicit the stories…

A Wild Question

I love first thing Monday morning. Does that make me weird? Since starting my new job I have been fortunate to be able to teach primary school classes as well as secondary pupils. The role of an ICT specialist as opposed to that of a secondary classroom teacher is quite different: to begin with the class sizes are larger but the main difference is that ICT is taught to enhance the project work primary pupils are undertaking in their current term – the aim of curriculum for excellence in secondary school. This has a number of benefits: extrinsic motivation, longer learning periods (comparatively – perhaps not true for all schools), deeper learning. Also as the ICT needs to help pupils progress toward completion of their termly topics, it requires more in depth knowledge/experience from the teacher.

For example, I am preparing my primary 7 pupils to record and edit an interview. The ICT part is teaching Audacity skills but I also have to frame it within good interview and audio production techniques. This means lots of question and answer sessions with the class, quickly building a good relationship with the pupils is important when they are going to be recording their voice and receiving honest, constructive feedback. So I made sure that I exemplified bad interview technique during the first week and then referred to it in the second. This shows that I am comfortable making mistakes in their presence, hopefully building trust for future lessons where I hope they can make mistakes without fear!

Anyway Monday’s lesson focussed on questioning skills. I wanted them to realise that they needed to think carefully about their questions and try to get the interviewee to share their story instead of give a short response. The pupils combined audio clips to match a text transcript of selected closed questions I had asked them during last week’s lesson and then the responses the pupils gave me. We then listened to the restructured audio and discussed how to adapt these closed questions to elicit a story – or at least more detail! There was some great discussion at this point about what could be classed as an open and closed question – I just sat back and let it happen around me. Learning was clearly in progress and I would just interrupt it if I butted in!

The pupils then worked on their own examples of open questions and we finished the class with the pupils interviewing me using a few of their questions. They really did themselves proud by eliciting a few stories from me and by listening carefully to inform their follow-up questions. I can’t wait until next Monday morning!

Photograph courtesy of [F]oxymoron – A Wild Question: (creative commons)


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