Tomorrow is the first quiz in my Calculus class and in preparation, we spent some of today in a Q&A session. I allowed them to ask questions and I endeavored to answer them clearly. (There are times when I prefer to let students answer each other’s questions as much as possible, but the day before the first formal assessment when nerves are high didn’t seem like the best time for this.)
Overall, I think the Q&A session went well, but there were two problems. The first was one that I know every teacher has experienced. Student A asked a question, and I gave an answer. Then Student B asked the exact same question, down to the choice of numbers they used in their example. Student B wasn’t trying to be snotty, they just weren’t listening to Student A (on a conscious level…. however I have to believe that she heard A but didn’t fully register it since the question was the same).
The second problem was that students misheard what other students asked. They would get confused and freaked out because they heard a different question than what was actually being asked and so my explanation was causing them to doubt their understanding.
I think that students can get a lot out of sessions like this, but I need them to carefully listen to each other. Any ideas out there about how I can help students to listen carefully to what their peers ask?