• The length and correctness of their responses increases.
• The number of "I don't know" and no answer responses decreases.
• The number of volunteered, appropriate answers by larger numbers of students greatly increases.• The scores of students on academic achievement tests tend to increase.
• Questioning strategies tend to be more flexible and varied.
• The quantity of questions decrease while the quality and variety increase.
• Questions often require more complex information processing and higher level thinking on the part of the students.
Following up on Rowe's research, Robert Stahl constructed the term "think time"- uninterrupted quiet time (silence) by teacher and students. Like Stahl and many others, think time resonates for me because it implies an active time to process information, whereas "wait time" is more passive and doesn't encourage continued mental engagement. As with the earlier research, Stahl found 3-5 seconds gives enough time for nearly everyone to consider what's being asked and formulate a response. Stahl identified a variety of times when short periods of silence are useful instructional tools:
1. After a teacher asks a question
2. When a student hesitates while answering, refrain from jumping in (teacher & classmates)
3. After a student answers (allows for elaboration and other students to respond)
4. Pause time before speaking (gives teachers & students time to consider what they are going to say)
5. Short pauses during a presentation (allows for consolidation of information)
6. Within instruction (to grab the attention/set up anticipation of students)
7. Before partner work (give a specific amount of time for each student to think individually)
Think time takes discipline and restraint! Having said that, it seems to relate to mindfulness, and slowing the pace of our classrooms down. The idea of "think time" resonates deeply for me on a personal level, too. Because I think internally, in school I didn't feel as smart as the kids whose hands shot up right away and had lots to say. Like many of our elementary students, I believed fast = smart. Just think about the potential impact 3 seconds can have on the quieter students in your class!
As good teachers, I know you already use wait time. My challenge to you is to look for opportunities to intentionally incorporate think time into your classroom culture - insert 3-5 seconds of silence and then notice the changes that result. Share you idea in the comments on this post so our colleagues can follow up with you.
Personal/Professional Growth:Using "Think Time" and "Wait Time" Skillfully in the Classroom
The Wonder of Wait Time!