What is a hinge question?
A check for understanding at a ‘hinge-point’ in a lesson, so-called because of two inter-linked meanings:
1) It is the point where you move from one key idea/activity/point on to another.
2) Understanding the content before the hinge is a prerequisite for the next chunk of learning.1
Dylan Wiliam writes that this helps teachers make a hugely important decision in the classroom; whether to move on or whether to recap and who is ready for this.
Sounds awesome right?
The thing is, writing these questions is hard. It’s hard because they need to be:
- Answerable in a short space of time (Dylan Wiliam suggests 2mins or less)
- Possible to interpret in a short space of time (around 15 seconds)
- You have to know why students have answered in a certain way
That last part is about the answers being semi-dense2 I won’t go into the details of that, that’s for another post but basically:
- Any answer a student selects should suggest one, and only one, thought pattern or misconception
- It should be impossible for incorrect though processes to reach a correct answer
So here is what I tried today:
And here is my rationale:
It’s not perfect; I’m happy enough that the question tells me what students do or do ot understand, but not what their thinking is. It’s a first step. The writing of the questions is easy, it’s making the responses useful that I find hard.
I’m going to finish this post off with a few thoughts:
- I am going to keep trying with this, and I’ll post anything I create here, with the idea that I will post the interpretation as well – because that’s the important bit.
- I would love to share ideas with anyone who wants to try creating these, or who has some great examples I can use to get myself into a better mindset for this
- This site is very cool, but lacks the interpretation element that makes these so crucial. I find myself looking at site and saying “lovely questions – what do they tell me?”
- That’s right, they’re multiple choice.
That’s all for now.