Keeping quiet makes room for students to think and share.

Last week I had five minutes with nothing urgent to do or planned. I had been thinking about taking Bruce Ferrington’s idea and decided to see how my students would respond. I simply threw out the question and then kept quiet. “Jina and I were wondering who has the tallest class. How could we find out?”.

Hands went up. I acknowledged them and they began to put forward their suggestions with growing interest and excitement.

“We can ask our parents how tall we are, bring that information to school and add it up.”
“We can measure each child using two metre rulers and use a calculator to find the total.”
“We can go outside and lie everyone down in a long line and see which class makes the longest line”.
“We could even measure the lines with a long measuring tape.”
“We could get Jesse to stand against the wall – he’s the tallest. Mark how tall he is. Then we can mark each child’s height on the wall and take the difference away from Jesse’s height to work out theirs. Then add them all together.”
“We could mark each child’s height on paper. Measure it using a ruler and then total them all up.”
“I’ve got a height measuring chart at home. I could bring that in and we can use it to read off our heights. And add them up.”

By this stage I was very excited and so were they. I had kept quiet – something that doesn’t come naturally to me as I usually get very engaged and can’t stay out of the discussion – and they came up with 7 different ways which we could use to work out the total height of our class!

I commended their thinking and creativity and suggested we use all the methods they had put forward and compare our findings and discuss which was most accurate, fun, quickest, etc.

Tomorrow is the start to our latest maths inquiry into who has the tallest class. I can’t wait. Based on the fact that some have been asking me when we will get started – they can’t either.

I am going to ask questions and keep quiet a whole lot more!!! Keeping quiet makes room for students to think and share. Keeping quiet gets students engaged naturally. Keeping quiet allows students to direct the inquiry and own it.