Use the AWCE (pronounced ORCE) CODE

Asking questions is an essential part of assessing for learning, and thus good teaching. It is however, an art form, and must be practised many times in order to master it. I use the AWCE code to scaffold my journey to mastery.


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When you ask a question, WAIT before you call on a student to answer. This serves 2 purposes: a) it increases the thinking time students have to ponder the question.  Students have time to engage with the question, and adjust their thoughts as they process the information further. b) It also prevents calling out, as students realise they won’t be acknowledged anyway.


Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 8.08.17 PMAfter waiting, check students are thinking, and do it in an inclusive way. Ask specific students their thoughts before acknowledging the correct answer, and thank each for their contribution. Bouncing the question around the room helps students maintain focus as they could be called on next, and you can gauge who understands. Repeat the question too so students have full access.


screen-shot-2018-01-01-at-8-08-29-pm.pngRespond to the answers now, by pushing responses to deeper places. Use other answers as leverage, challenging students’ thinking. Having heard several responses, students will naturally process their thoughts, their evaluations forcing either justification, or alteration. This is a powerful, deeper learning moment.


The ultimate benefit of the AWCE code, besides a more active learning space, is you being able to gauge how the learning is going, and whether you need to revisit specific concepts or push them into more challenging areas.

This immediate class feedback is invaluable. But when you don’t receive all the signals your class are sending, and you only pick up fragments of the dots and dashes, you can easily feel lost at sea. Learning the AWCE code will help you to attune your ears to the needs of your class, and make you a better educator.


I’m @edmerger