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Please don’t rewrite the question

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At the end of class we’re to ask our students a closure question to check for understanding. Often, I feel that these questions are pointless. As by observing what the students created during class, it’s pretty clear if they get what’s going on.

ken robinson

So, instead I use the closure question to get to know my students better and or to get them to think. I enjoy reading the responses, but what I don’t enjoy is that the students have been wonderfully trained to rewrite the question, followed with their answer. This drives me nuts.


I have little time, and I want to quickly flip through the pile of papers and read their answers. I do not want to reread the question, that I wrote 127 times, that’s enough to make a person want to bash their head into the wall.

Not only is it annoying, it’s a huge waste of time. And if you don’t believe me… believe the math.

sample question: My favorite part of the day was:_________________

I simply want students to fill in the blank. But instead they each write,

my favorite part of the day was lunch

my favorite part of the day was sleeping

my favorite part of the day was when someone fell down the steps, 

and on and on we go.

If all 127 students decide to rewrite the 7 word question, that is 889 extra words that I have to read in day. And that’s assuming that I only ask one question, and a short one at that.

Maybe 889 extra words doesn’t seem that bad to you, but I teach for 185 days, so if we assume that each day I only ask one 7 word question, that is still a staggering 164,465 words . Let me break that into pages for you. That’s 365 pages. ( Just typing that makes me want to say a lot of bad words, but since I’m a teacher I’ll hold back.)

So, why are we obsessed with having students rewrite the question. Just write the  answer and let me go read a 365 page book that contains more than 7 words.

1 Comment

  1. Amantha
    January 28, 2014

    Thank you!

    I have inadvertently done something right as a parent! This is the only question I ask my first grade daughter after school.

    I know what they are doing in school and one day I asked her one of the teacher’s requested questions, “What are your writing goals?” And she spun around in her booster seat, glaring. She eyed me suspiciously and asked, “how do you know about THOSE?”

    I look at her work. We talk, read, make jokes and play word games. I’m not going to grill her every day.

    Thank you for doing your important work.

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