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AFL Strategies

Progression Traffic Lights

• Use traffic lights as a visual means of showing understanding. Laminate for display.

• Either give students red, amber, green cards which they show on their desks or ask for raised hands.

• RED = don’t understand, know nothing, not confident...

• AMBER = know a little, nearly there...

• GREEN = totally get it, got is sussed, confident learner etc...

• At the beginning of the lesson ask for prior knowledge.

• Review in the plenary session.

• Instant feed back to inform your planning.

Think, Pair, Share

• Pose an opened ended question or problem to which there may be a variety of answers.

• THINK: Allow ‘thinking time’ and direct them to think about the question.

• PAIR: Students then work in pairs to share ideas, discuss, clarify and challenge.

• SHARE: Share ideas with another pair or with whole class

• It is important that students need to be able to share their own partner’s ideas as well as their own.

• Peer interaction and thinking time are powerful factors in improving responses to questions

Think, Pair, Share is a structure first developed by Professor Frank Lyman at the University of Maryland in 1981 and adopted by many writers in the field of co-operative learning since then. It introduces into the peer interaction element of co-operative learning the idea of ‘wait or think’ time, which has been demonstrated to be a powerful factor in improving student responses to questions.

It is a simple strategy, effective from early childhood through all subsequent phases of education to tertiary and beyond. It is a very versatile structure, which has been adapted and used, in an endless number of ways. This is one of the foundation stones for the development of the ‘co-operative classroom.’

PURPOSE: Processing information, communication, developing thinking.

RELEVANT SKILLS: Sharing information, listening, asking questions, summarising others’ ideas, paraphrasing.

STEPS: Teacher poses a problem or asks an open-ended question to which there may be a variety of answers. Teacher gives the students ‘think time’ and directs them to think about the question. Following the ‘think time’ students turn to face their Learning Partner and work together, sharing ideas, discussing, clarifying and challenging. The pair then share their ideas with another pair, or with the whole class. It is important that students need to be able to share their partner’s ideas as well as their own.


  • Before a lesson or topic to orient the class (previous knowledge etc).

  • During teacher modelling or explanation.

  • Any time, to check understanding of material.

  • At the end of a teacher explanation, demonstration etc, to enable students to cognitively process the material.

  • To break up a long period of sustained activity.

  • Whenever it is helpful to share ideas.

  • For clarification of instructions, rules of a game, homework etc.

  • For the beginning of a plenary session.


Think, Pair, Share can be used in all curriculum areas and is limited only by the creativity of the teacher. This structure along with Numbered Heads Together is an excellent substitute for the normally competitive structures in a question and answer session.


This is an essential structure to introduce early in the process of establishing the ‘co-operative classroom.’ It ensures a high level of engagement (it is hard to be left out of a pair!) and is more secure than a large group.

Think, Pair, Share has many advantages over the traditional questioning structure. The ‘Think Time’ incorporates the important concept of ‘wait time’. It allows all children to develop answers. Longer and more elaborate answers can be given. Answers will have reasons and justifications because they have been thought about and discussed. Students are more willing to take risks and suggest ideas because they have already ‘tested’ them with their partner.,_pair,_share.htm

Numbered heads together

• Divide students into groups of 4, students each given a number 1-4

• Teacher poses a question or problem.

• Each individual in the group has to contribute an idea, answer or solution.

• The group then have to agree on which idea will be their group answer.

• Teacher calls out a number randomly 1-4.

• Students with that number raise their hands, and when called on, the student answers for his or her team.

ABCD TF YN cards

• Laminate lettered cards A, B, C, D, or T, F, Y, N,

• Ask Multiple choice questions: A, B, C, D.

• Even better when there is more than one correct answer to spark a discussion, or when the answers depend on the assumptions the student makes.

• Ask True/False or Yes/No questions.

• Students hold lettered cards up in response.

Class basketball

• Pass a soft ball to one student to give one main idea from the lesson to share with group.

• The ball then passes to another student to give another main point of the lesson.

• Once a student has taken part s/he cannot be passed the ball again.

• This continues until the teacher thinks the main points have been given.

Student created problems

• Students in pairs/groups pose a question for the class to answer – write it on mini whiteboards or post its.

• At end of the lesson take the questions and ask other groups to answer them.

• Students in groups then work on answers –

• Groups feedback to class with answers.

Find the fib

• Write two correct statements about the lesson and one fib

• Ask students to tell you which one is the fib and why?

One, Two, Review, Review

  • ONE: ‘I’ – ‘I learned this...’

  • TWO: ‘you’ – ‘You thought/added...’

  • REVIEW– ‘I now know...’ – what they have learned from paired conversation

  • REVIEW – ‘I didn’t know/think this because...’ – allows reflection on thought processes.

  • Starts with the individual’s contribution and then moves onto the paired learning experience.

Two Stars and a Wish

  • Peer assessment, self assessment or teacher assessment

  • Identify two positive things the student has done well and what you wish they could do in the future.

  • It may be assessment, behaviour, presentation driven. Ask if they can act on the wish next time or there and then for immediate action.

  • This could be recorded in their books on a sheet.

Smiley faces

  • 😊 Got it sussed. Ready to move on!

  • 😑 Nearly there! Understand some parts but not all.

  • 😟Unsure. Do not understand and need to look at it again!

  • Students draw smiley faces to indicate how comfortable they are with the topic. .

  • Good for checking knowledge on revision lists.


  • 👍 I get it

  • 👈 Sort of – half way there...

  • 👎 I don’t get it

  • Check class understanding of what you are teaching by asking them to show their thumbs.


  • Set an area of wall space for students to stick post it notes.

  • Groups, pairs, individual can answer.

  • Instant feedback to inform your planning.

Peer & Self Assessment


What are the purposes of teachers' classroom questions? A variety of purposes emerge from analysis of the literature, including:

  • To develop interest and motivate students to become actively involved in lessons

  • To evaluate students' preparation and check on homework

  • To develop critical thinking skills and inquiring attitudes

  • To review and summarize previous lessons

  • To nurture insights by exposing new relationships

  • To assess achievement of instructional goals and objectives

  • To stimulate students to pursue knowledge on their own

Guidelines for Classroom Questioning

  • When teaching students factual material, keep up a brisk instructional pace, frequently posing lower cognitive questions.

  • With older and higher ability students, ask questions before (as well as after) material is read and studied.

  • Question younger and lower ability students only after material has been read and studied.

  • Ask a majority of lower cognitive questions when instructing younger and lower ability students. Structure these questions so that most of them will elicit correct responses.

  • Ask a majority of higher cognitive questions when instructing older and higher ability students.

  • Keep wait-time to about three seconds when conducting recitations involving a majority of lower cognitive questions.

  • Increase wait-time beyond three seconds when asking higher cognitive questions.

The use of Edward de-Bono‟s Thinking Hats can be a useful resource for varying the type of question

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