17 Nov 2016

Classroom Wait time, Think time and Rehearse Time

Recently the subject of wait time has cropped up again and again when I’ve been researching the subject of questions and questioning in the classroom.

When I asked teachers at my session in the ACEIA conference in Seville to say how long they thought the average time teachers wait before choosing or asking a student to answer a question, they suggested that times of around 8 to 10 seconds.

In fact, according to many articles I have read (and to my own observations of teachers in the classroom), wait time is very, very often much shorter than that – 2-3 seconds it seems.

Is it because we want to get through the syllabus, our lesson plan?  To move onto the next question/stage/topic?

This doesn’t allow very much thinking time for any of the students!

Many teachers around the world are trying to ask questions which involve more thinking (HOTS – Higher Order Thinking Skills), more processing.

And as was shown in a video in the Conference Plenary:  Creativity Requires Time:

Source:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPbjSnZnWP0

So, many educators are  allowing students more time to think and process the answers before they ask students to respond.

When we tell students that they have a minute to do an activity in, they very often don’t have time to do it or we are certainly putting them under a lot of pressure!

As I’ll explain in the instructions for Doubling, giving students more time and challenging them to come up with more than the normal quantity and content can have amazing results!


And why not let your students rehearse?  Let them roll up their hand and say their answer into it before you choose an individual to answer.  Let them all say their answer at the same time – especially when they are giving their own answers to questions because then they may all well be different and they’ll be hearing lots of different words and sentences!

When you’re doing the photo description task at Cambridge English: Preliminary level, ask all the students in the class to talk for a minute about a/the photo.  They describe the photo aloud but they’re saying it to and for themselves!

Do the same for Cambridge English: First Certificate.  It works wonderfully, believe me!






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