Pepper and salt questions


Pepper and salt questions

13 Nov ’21 RememberMore Teaching 0

Thinking is not driven by answers but by questions. Had no questions been asked by those who laid the foundation for a field…the field would never have developed in the first place.

Paul and Elder (2000)

Is there a more important topic in teaching than what and how to question?

[Imagine a long, thoughtful pause.]

Provoking interest, checking for understanding, enabling deeper connections, exploring, affirming…

Adding to the what and how to question, managing responses seems to be “en vogue” pedagogy topic. Old-skool, tech-skool, cold call, choral, no-hands up, the role of feedback (immediate, delayed, self or peer), and my current professional area of interest – concurrent metacognition.

More recently, I have been exploring B to A questions. “

“What happened in 1066?”

More recently, I have been exploring B to A questions. “If this is the Answer… What is the Question?” technique, what I refer to as “pepper and salt” questions, what Dan Willingham calls B to A questions, has had more than a few run-outs in the our classroom.

And one final point that I am not going to tackle here now, is the relative value of pre-planned versus in-the-moment questions. It is important distinct and comes into play section. Teaching with RememberMore means that I have categorised and tagged questions on hand, ahead of the lesson. It means that I have to plan ahead and define the substantive knowledge, before designing the questions. In lessons, using resource, knowing I have that resource to call upon, is assuring and allowing me more “thinking space” or cognitive load for teaching.

Now your turn

Friday’s Year 7 travel writing lesson was a “pepper and salt” success. After a term and a half, and homework focused on the content, we already have a fast and flexible interleaved, retrieval routine, that includes a self assessment protocol.

With just one click and we also have B to A or “pepper and salt” questions.

We “quiz” most lessons and quiz-test every Thursday in our exercise books – 10 Questions from a slowly extended deck or bank of Cards. We sometime quiz in the middle and the end of the lesson too. Always self assessed using the 2-1-0 mark scheme – with corrections made and no spaces unfilled. Highlighting key learning opportunities, or misconceptions for example.

  • 2 marks – on the money, matches the answer on the screen
  • 1 marks – more right than wrong (a key metacognitive decision ) add / improve
  • 0 marks – incorrect or no answer – correct, add, highlight

Given that this was “knowledge already relatively secure, the pupils loved the new challenge. A challenge that anchored and consolidated their knowledge. A challenge that also offered overlearning.

Help yourself – Travel writing deck – 83 Cards.

PS – It is Sunday morning and I am returning to the post to share that since the lesson 4 pupils have revisited the Cards.


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