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"No opt out" technique

Hello Colleagues, A friend recently recommended Doug Lemov’s (2010) book Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that put Students on the Path to College. Many of the techniques Lemov outlines for K12 teachers focus on how to manage teacher-led whole class discussion, with teacher questioning designed to assess students’ understanding of content.

Here is one example. Lemov suggests that to set high expectations, teachers can implement the “no opt out” technique. Here’s how it works. When a student responds, “I don’t know” to a teacher’s question, the teacher will ask the question again to another student who responds correctly. The teacher then returns to the first student and asks the same question again, expecting the student to respond with the correct answer. Lemov’s point is that when students know that they will not be let off the hook, this raises the expectations for everyone. No one in the class is allowed to “opt out.” This is surely a positive outcome.

I’m curious what members of our community think about this particular technique as well as the role of what we call “display” questions (i.e., questions for which the teacher already knows the answer) in our practice. While I think there is a place for this common IRE (Initiate, Respond, Evaluate) classroom routine, I’ve read studies that claim the IRE interaction pattern is often the dominant one in classrooms.  I would argue that this type of interaction is not likely to support students to engage in the kind of higher-order thinking required by the College and Career Readiness Standards.

What do others think? What is the proper place for display questions in your teaching? What are your thoughts about the usefulness of the “no opt out” technique?

Cheers, Susan

Moderator, Assessment COP