3 tips on how to design perfect hinge questions

Thomas Courtley, ex teacher and LessonUp education specialist

Thomas Courtley

Education Specialist

Blog cover image: hinge questions

'Do we need to go over this one more time?' How often have you asked yourself this while teaching? To figure it out you are used to asking your class one or two questions, and generally always the same kids are happy to give you the correct answers. But are you all the wiser?

The answer is no. No surprise there. If you want to make a sensible decision about moving on with your lesson or going over something one more time, you need clear information. This information has to give you a complete picture of your classroom, and whether or not they have understood.

Thinking of ways to formulate the perfect hinge-point questions? To give you some inspiration, we’ve prepared a lesson with a couple of examples. 👇


1. Design all your lessons with hinges in them

Every 20 to 30 minutes you could briefly pause your lesson, and check if the students are with you by using hinge-point questions. If they are, you can continue following your lesson structure. If not, you can go over the same concept/s, or opt for activities that help learners consolidate their learning. 

Hinge-point questions activate and engage your students. You get high quality information about what to do next during your lesson, and can adjust accordingly.


2. Make sure your questions are straightforward

You don’t want to completely blow up your lesson’s flow. That would be counterproductive, so make sure your questions are clear, and that students are able to answer them in a couple of minutes. They are not meant to be a distraction for your class. They need to be well thought of, and cleverly designed.

Make sure it is literally impossible for kids to get the answer right for the wrong reasons, or the question is useless. Design all your questions to support that.


3. Plan questions that give you a snapshot of your class

All your students have answered your hinge-point questions. Now it’s up to you to find out what this means, and quickly, within 30 seconds. The important thing is for you to make a swift decision on whether to move forward or not. With LessonUp, you can instantly see how many students have answered correctly.

Hinge-point questions are not meant to slow down your lesson. They are quick checks. You should be able to get a swift response from every kid in your class.

Digital quizzes - The perfect way to pose hinge questions

A quiz is a playful way to quickly assess your students’ learning. Most students love digital quizzes. They are playful, immediate ways to assess knowledge while engaging your students with the lesson material. There is no need for students to write or type a thorough answer. Open-ended questions are also very important, but quizzes are more effective hinge questions: short, clear, and to the point. 

A quiz is the perfect way to simplify things and indicate the correct answer within the mix. They give you an instant opportunity to establish what your class knows. In this video Claire tells you  👉 how to add a quiz question in LessonUp.

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