Blog Archive

Sunday 12 May 2019

Questioning - What is 'cold calling'?

Cold calling is a technique that combines the desire to build students confidence, assess their learning, ensure accountability and improve the conversations that happen within our classrooms. It builds on the random responses of students, ensures all voices are heard and students learn that everyone speaks (at some point or other throughout a term or year). This also means it hinges on consistent classroom routines where an ethos of respect is cultivated (

There are four ways cold-calling can be embedded:

1. Move then cold call - Students move within the classroom to show their opinion. After everyone is picked, they talk in their small groups about their choices and then you can 'cold call' one student from each group to feedback.
2. Confer + cold call - Listen in to students as they are discussing and build their responses in groups. When you are happy with their understanding, ask if they will share with the class.
3. Quick write + cold call - Giving students 2-3 minutes to process their ideas with a 'quick write' means you can be more confidence to pick the less confident students to feedback.
4. Turn and talk + cold call with options - "I want you to talk to your partner/the people at your table for two minutes about..... afterwards I will ask three people to report back".

Laura Barnett generously give us her top tips on this effective strategy:
Within my classroom, I routinely plan a re-cap starter, which normally leads on to the driving question and key words. Subsequently, I then use cold call questioning for 5-10 minutes after they have discussed the starter question.

Top tips include:
1) Do not let a student say less than you (don't paraphrase what you wish they had said).
2) Make them speak in full sentences.
3) Ask more than 1 question before moving on using Blooms/Solo:
What is guilt
Give me an example from your own life...
Give me an example from the play.....
What else does this example show you (more ideas than the first one)
Where else do you see this/compare this to another time/person - expand to wider context
4) Finally, link back to the driving question....

If a student appears stuck then I rephrase/go to another person but always revisit that first person.

For further reading, please check out the links below:

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