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Classroom example: gimme 5

Rather than asking for one answer the teacher can ask students to come up with five. Watch the technique
ANDREA: Rather than ask him for one answer, the teacher can ask students to come up with five.
ASHLEY: So in a moment, what you’re going to do now is you’re going to learn about the different types of energies. OK. What you’re going to do is fill in one of these sheets. These sheets, what you’re going to do is you’re going to collect one from the sides. You’re going to put the type of energy that you’re focusing on. You will also get an information sheet, which will look like this, about a particular type of renewable energy. [INTERPOSING VOICES]
STUDENT: Wind farms.
ASHLEY: Yes, what are the negatives?
STUDENT: And then there’s no, no window power. So it only works when it’s windy.
STUDENT: And then it can interfere with TVs and radars.
ASHLEY: Well, so that’s all well and good. So where abouts in the world would we get the best use of that then? Because you said there’s no wind, there’s no power.
STUDENT: Yeah. So the most windy parts of the world. So like the Canary Islands.
ASHLEY: Yes. So there’s some examples of where it would be good. Obviously if there’s loads of sun, if you compare it to solar or something like that. which you’ll do later, you want to think about this location and where it’s going to work best. Where it’s going to work at. We gave you– have you worked out how it works? Being a researcher, have you worked out how it works?
To improve the quality of evidence gathered, and increase students’ thinking, rather than asking the whole class for one response, we can rephrase a question, or activity, and ask students for more approaches.
This could be done with question which asks for more than one example, such as ‘Can you come up with five ways to separate substances?’. Or, as we see here in Ashley’s classroom, students are asked to work on five different aspects of the learning, whilst answering multiple questions.
When using such approaches, we recommend that students are given the opportunity to talk to each other before you gather evidence. This can be facilitated in a number of ways, and you will see in Ashley’s classroom that he allows some of his students to operate as ‘spies’ to gather ideas from other groups to inform their thinking.


One or five?
In the comments below, share your views on asking students to provide five answers to a question. What might the limitations be and what might the benefits be in terms of being able to infer student understanding?
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