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Are you sure?

December 29, 2008 am31 12:58 am

Isn’t this a horrible question to use in the classroom?

Every kid knows the game: read the teacher’s reaction for hints. And this is a doozy. “Are you sure?” = correct yourself quickly.

But in 2718’s class, the question works differently.

Roughly 2 out of 3 times I use it, the kid was right. It forces them to stop, think. The answer is not automatic.

Why do I ask “are you sure?” Well, first off, I don’t ask it a lot. It’s still not a favorite question.

  • Sometimes, just to throw a curve.
  • Sometimes, a kid who participates a lot is answering too fast. It forces reflection.
  • Sometimes I get an answer, a number, a word, when I wanted an explanation. Contrast “Can you tell us how you got that answer?” with “Are you sure?” [response] Can you explain why?
  • Sometimes, it pulls the class’ attention, hard.
  • Sometimes to let a kid off the hook. “I thought it was like the previous question, but, no, I am not sure.”
  • Sometimes to make a kid feel good [scrunches up face because he’s not positive, runs the math in his head, and triumphantly exclaims] “Yes, I am sure!”
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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2008 am31 1:34 am 1:34 am

    I don’t think it is so horrible. I use it myself quite a bit.

  2. December 29, 2008 am31 1:39 am 1:39 am

    But do you use it to cue the kid to change their answer?

  3. December 29, 2008 am31 5:22 am 5:22 am

    Not all the time. Mostly the same way you do. Sometimes they’re right and I want them to explain it to others, sometimes they’re right and aren’t sure of it. It depends upon the difficulty of the question, the student, and how I think the rest of the class is doing with the topic.

    Actually, my seniors do a nice job of questioning each other, so I don’t have to step in as often. A few moments of silence on my part will lead to the necessary “Are you sure?” or “Yeah, I got that too.” or “I got the same answer but I did it a different way.” from one of the other students.

  4. December 29, 2008 pm31 8:16 pm 8:16 pm

    But when I start the year, it confuses the hell out of them. They expect me to use it not like we do, but in place of “you’ve made a mistake. Change your answer” – and I think that’s how it usually is done.

  5. December 30, 2008 am31 9:14 am 9:14 am

    Actually most of our department uses questioning like this, so my seniors are rather accustomed (hence my being able to just be silent for a few moments while they discuss as a class).

    Poor freshmen though, I think they’re used to it, but confused as hell accurately sums up the first month or so.

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