How to respond to lazy students who say "I don't Know" to easy questions

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Theofficialx
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How do you do this? I tried to get students to think of just five words just FIVE words related to their lockdown experience and i had one student saying "i don't know", when i tried to break it down and get them to summarise it in just three words i got the same response but this time in a much more rude way "I..... Don't........ Know" - like what do you even do in that situation? i felt so helpless in that moment and it concerns me moving forward.
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bluebeetle
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(Original post by Theofficialx)
How do you do this? I tried to get students to think of just five words just FIVE words related to their lockdown experience and i had one student saying "i don't know", when i tried to break it down and get them to summarise it in just three words i got the same response but this time in a much more rude way "I..... Don't........ Know" - like what do you even do in that situation? i felt so helpless in that moment and it concerns me moving forward.
Some students use this as a sort of defence mechanism - they might seem very confrontational or lazy, but actually sometimes they are internally quite nervous about saying something that makes them seem stupid.

In a general sense, what you want to do is make your class an environment where students feel comfortable making mistakes (though obviously this is much harder to do as a trainee with limited placement times). Really crack down on ANY hint of laughter / mocking of students' answers, reward any attempt at answering a question (even if it's wrong) but don't be "false" about it.

In a specific sense, what I usually do with a student who says "I don't know" in the moment is accept it, and then say something like, "I'm going to ask <other student who I know will attempt an answer> and come back to you after, so make sure you listen carefully". Then ask the question to another student, get an answer, maybe elaborate on what makes it a good answer, and then jump back to that initial student. If they're very resistant, you can even make it simpler - "<Student> said she would describe lockdown as X, Y, Z, which one of those three do you agree with most?" That way they're not having to come up with anything new or original, which can be less daunting. Over time, the more frequently you get a student to give a proper answer, the more confident they will hopefully become with giving answers to more challenging questions.
Last edited by bluebeetle; 3 weeks ago
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hotpud
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To be fair - it's actually quite a hard question. So here are some tips for what they are worth.

Why not give them some words and let them choose. You could then focus on getting them to create descriptive sentences that use the words you have chosen and as a stretch activity, then encourage students to think of their own words.

You could read out some made up quotations that made up people / celebrities have used to describe lockdown and go along the same kind of lines as above.

You could also pair students up and get them to do a think pair share type activity and if you want to be uber cooperative, get a student to say words the other said.

In other words, they might not be lazy. They might genuinely not know.
Last edited by hotpud; 3 weeks ago
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Theofficialx
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(Original post by bluebeetle)
Some students use this as a sort of defence mechanism - they might seem very confrontational or lazy, but actually sometimes they are internally quite nervous about saying something that makes them seem stupid.

In a general sense, what you want to do is make your class an environment where students feel comfortable making mistakes (though obviously this is much harder to do as a trainee with limited placement times). Really crack down on ANY hint of laughter / mocking of students' answers, reward any attempt at answering a question (even if it's wrong) but don't be "false" about it.

In a specific sense, what I usually do with a student who says "I don't know" in the moment is accept it, and then say something like, "I'm going to ask <other student who I know will attempt an answer> and come back to you after, so make sure you listen carefully". Then ask the question to another student, get an answer, maybe elaborate on what makes it a good answer, and then jump back to that initial student. If they're very resistant, you can even make it simpler - "<Student> said she would describe lockdown as X, Y, Z, which one of those three do you agree with most?" That way they're not having to come up with anything new or original, which can be less daunting. Over time, the more frequently you get a student to give a proper answer, the more confident they will hopefully become with giving answers to more challenging questions.
Yeah that is some really helpful advice, thank you for this, really appreciate your kindness
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Theofficialx
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(Original post by hotpud)
To be fair - it's actually quite a hard question. So here are some tips for what they are worth.

Why not give them some words and let them choose. You could then focus on getting them to create descriptive sentences that use the words you have chosen and as a stretch activity, then encourage students to think of their own words.

You could read out some made up quotations that made up people / celebrities have used to describe lockdown and go along the same kind of lines as above.

You could also pair students up and get them to do a think pair share type activity and if you want to be uber cooperative, get a student to say words the other said.

In other words, they might not be lazy. They might genuinely not know.
Thank you for the suggestion, seems like a very good activity, appreciate your time
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tinygirl96
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Try another pupil in the classroom. See if they can answer you. Or get them to write down their answer to the question instead.
Alternatively give them a sort of choice of options for each question, or aim to make the entire question a fill in the gaps exercise. You can also turn the whole question into a whole class discussion or game.
Other fun effective ways to spice up the lesson include thinking of other types of questions and then providing the kids with a targeted worksheet of subject specific questions devised. For example for maths you could have a worksheet of number questions or homework tasks on a whiteboard relating to a new toy, phone or computer.
For history you can create a question booklet or show a video. Same applies to subjects like geography and science. Fill in the gap exercises work for english and art. Ask the kids to pick their own homework from a short list.
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Kumaa1995
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If I can help it...

I will usually try to avoid picking out specific people in the classroom to question. Instead, I will try to present the question as a poll of sorts.

I will first present the question or topic or problem at hand, then I would present answers corresponding to the question, and I would go through the series of answers and do a poll on it.

"Right so who thinks it is this answer?"
"What about this answer?"
"Does anyone else have another answer or approach that isn't otherwise mentioned?"

Once I've gone through them, I will mention the correct answer as well as the underlying thought process which resulted in the correct answer. For me, I find this not only helps with their critical thinking but prevents people from using a defensive mechanism for fear of being wrong. Not to mention the aim is to try and engage as many pupils as possible in the questioning and preventing students from 'falling asleep'. Further, it pretty much reduces the situations where you're in the state of "come on the answer is easy"

Granted this is what I've done with my PCET and students I've worked with part of my placement, but I intend to try and adopt this same methodology of questioning my students since I'm looking at getting into secondary. So it might be something worth considering as an alternative strategy of questioning and assessing?
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npic9
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(Original post by Kumaa1995)
If I can help it...

I will usually try to avoid picking out specific people in the classroom to question. Instead, I will try to present the question as a poll of sorts.

I will first present the question or topic or problem at hand, then I would present answers corresponding to the question, and I would go through the series of answers and do a poll on it.

"Right so who thinks it is this answer?"
"What about this answer?"
"Does anyone else have another answer or approach that isn't otherwise mentioned?"

Once I've gone through them, I will mention the correct answer as well as the underlying thought process which resulted in the correct answer. For me, I find this not only helps with their critical thinking but prevents people from using a defensive mechanism for fear of being wrong. Not to mention the aim is to try and engage as many pupils as possible in the questioning and preventing students from 'falling asleep'. Further, it pretty much reduces the situations where you're in the state of "come on the answer is easy"

Granted this is what I've done with my PCET and students I've worked with part of my placement, but I intend to try and adopt this same methodology of questioning my students since I'm looking at getting into secondary. So it might be something worth considering as an alternative strategy of questioning and assessing?
I wish my teachers did your approach back when I was at school
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Kumaa1995
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(Original post by npic9)
I wish my teachers did your approach back when I was at school
Hahaha, thanks, it's appreciated!

I try looking at it from the perspective of how I was as a student, how I felt, and what I felt would've aided in my learning. I'm curious to see how it comes into practice when I'm doing it with a compulsory versus non-compulsory audience though.
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Theofficialx
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(Original post by Kumaa1995)
If I can help it...

I will usually try to avoid picking out specific people in the classroom to question. Instead, I will try to present the question as a poll of sorts.

I will first present the question or topic or problem at hand, then I would present answers corresponding to the question, and I would go through the series of answers and do a poll on it.

"Right so who thinks it is this answer?"
"What about this answer?"
"Does anyone else have another answer or approach that isn't otherwise mentioned?"

Once I've gone through them, I will mention the correct answer as well as the underlying thought process which resulted in the correct answer. For me, I find this not only helps with their critical thinking but prevents people from using a defensive mechanism for fear of being wrong. Not to mention the aim is to try and engage as many pupils as possible in the questioning and preventing students from 'falling asleep'. Further, it pretty much reduces the situations where you're in the state of "come on the answer is easy"

Granted this is what I've done with my PCET and students I've worked with part of my placement, but I intend to try and adopt this same methodology of questioning my students since I'm looking at getting into secondary. So it might be something worth considering as an alternative strategy of questioning and assessing?
Thank you so much, great advice.
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IlikeDonerKebab
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Have a a wild guess ?
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IlikeDonerKebab
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Or say what do you think the answer is
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