Hands up everybody...or not?

In classrooms, I’ve increasingly seen the use of ‘no hands up rules’ in operation. Let’s really have a think about this and decide on what really high-level practitioners might be able to do.


Day one in teaching, pretty much every teacher will ask a question and ask students to put their hands up, then select one of those with a hand up to answer. It’s pretty clear to most of us that this allows students to either hide if they don’t know, or not answer if they do know but aren’t confident enough to put their hand up.


So, most teachers have moved on from this and many have a ‘no hands up’ rule where they simply select who answers. This has benefits. Students are on their toes as anybody could be picked to answer; over time more different students answer; and it’s easier to plan and differentiate questioning.


Great - solved. Or is it?


If we want to get to an even higher level, can we do more?


Can we do both? Can we vary them depending on the activity?


Here’s some Rethink ideas.


The ‘hands up no hands up’:


Just because you’ve asked your students to put their hands up, doesn’t mean that you can’t just pick whoever you like. Putting hands up gives you good AfL information about generally how many people think they know the answer, but you then pick whoever you were going to pick - this could be a person with their hand down. (You can’t do this too often or they won’t put their hands up anymore)


Mix and match:


Some activities are more suited to AfL, where you want to know a general whole class understanding. Hands up (or our hybrid above) can help here to gain whole class information. Other activities need more probing questioning, and these really need a true ‘no hands up’ approach. Think ahead and decide which style will give you the most information for the particular activity when planning – don't decide on the fly.

Signal to your students why you are doing hands up or not at any given time - there’s no need to keep them out of the loop or keep it a secret. They will engage and be less confused.