[by Phil Heath]
The idea of a hinge question was first put forward by educational researcher Dylan Williams. Put briefly, the question acts as your in-lesson assessment. It tells you whether the class is ready to move on to the next idea/construct or whether you need to re-visit the material that you have just covered.
A good hinge question is:
- Based on the important concept that you have been trying to teach (I suppose it doesn’t have to be an important concept but that does sound better).
- Usually a closed, multiple choice type question. You need a question that the students can answer within a couple of minutes.
- Aimed at every student. You can do this with mini whiteboards, plickers, Socrative/Kahoot or even by asking the students to hold up their answer on a piece of paper. You need to be able to collect and interpret the responses then and there for it to work. You also need to know what percentage of students you want to get it right before you are happy to move on. The more important the concept, the higher the percentage should be.
- In the middle of the lesson so you can choose to go either way depending on responses.
Hinge questions require a lot of thought and generally need to be planned in advance of the lesson. They need to have a clear right answer rather than generate discussion. Done right, they should allow you to target individuals for extra help and to pace your lessons well. I have made almost no use of them so far in my teaching career and there will be members of staff in the school who know far more than I do about them. I like the idea, though, and am starting to trial it in my teaching.
The information I used to make the list above was taken from David Didau’s blog. Clicking on the link above will take you to his article, which is a lot better than mine!