New ‘hands-down’ teaching method proves a success

Teachers at Northbridge Public School on Sydney’s lower north shore are now randomly selecting students to answer questions rather than relying on the traditional ‘hand up’ method, which favours the more confident students.

During class, teachers use a system involving colour-coded cups and paddles which indicate whether the students understand what they have learnt during the lesson. Green indicates they have grasped the concepts being taught and red indicates they are still having trouble understanding.

Alternatively, the children can write their answer on a whiteboard and raise it to request help from the teacher.

Principal, Amanda Donlan, told The Australian that the new method helps teachers gain “instant feedback” as well as provide a more comfortable way for the more shy students to engage in their learning.

“It’s instant feedback for the teachers so they know who to target in the lesson,” Donlan said.

“They can see exactly where each child’s at and can see the ones who are falling behind, and make specific adjustments to their program.”

Donlan explained that the traditional hand-up approach had allowed the more confident students to dominate classroom discussion.

“It meant some children might have gone under the radar, but that doesn’t happen now,” Donlan said, adding that teachers now get a head start in assessing learning needs by giving every kindergarten child a 45-minute assessment before they start school.

“The teacher’s program is pitched right at the individual child the minute they come in the door,” Donlan said.

“We can raise the bar for children who already know their sounds, for example, or put support in place for children who might have trouble hearing.”