Science teacher uses question tool to break students out of their shells

Posted on Posted in Teacher Stories

Alfonso Mendoza is in his 11th year of teaching, currently teaches 5th grade science and social studies. Alfonso emphasizes the value of student voice and collaboration in his teaching, but has found that students’ hesitation to speak up in class can be a barrier, “it’s very difficult to engage a student in a conversation in a classroom if they are self conscious,” he says, “they don’t want to raise their hand, they’re very shy.” The hesitation can make it hard to know what gaps to fill in students’ understanding, which he feels is critical to his teaching. “I really need to get students’ feedback, and it’s very important for me as a teacher that way I know exactly what it is that I need to teach, and I can fix any misconceptions.”

It’s very difficult to engage a student in a conversation in a classroom if they are self conscious

Alfonso Mendoza

This year, Alfonso started using Recap with his class to gather student questions and video responses. By submitting questions and responses privately he found that students had much more to say, even his most quiet students.

“They feel a little bit more at ease that no one is listening.” He also found that having a private space for questions led students to ask better, deeper questions than they were willing to ask in class. “I have students that will ask the basics, ‘Can you explain reflection and refraction again?’ but I do have students that take it to another level and they’ll say ‘Sir, what would happen if…’. So I get the ‘what would happen’ questions that they may be shy to ask in class because they feel like ‘well, I don’t wanna sound either too smart or I don’t wanna have people laugh at me.’”

They feel a little bit more at ease that no one is listening.

Alfonso Mendoza

Once his students started feeling secure asking more meaningful questions privately, Alfonso was able to encourage them to continue asking these questions. “It helps me bring them in and share with them that this is the level of question that I’m looking for in class.” With their permission, he started sharing these great student questions with the whole class, and found it created a dramatic shift. “It has changed the culture and the community in my classroom, where students now are breaking out of their shell and not just simply asking the basic definition-type of questions, now they’re at the ‘what if this happened’ or ‘what if we do this’.”

It has changed the culture and the community in my classroom

Alfonso Mendoza

“You start seeing that the questions start developing, their self-esteem starts developing, and now it becomes a collaborative environment.” Alfonso’s dedication to supporting and encouraging his students, combined with having a platform dedicated to student questions, has brought his class together into a community of learning. “Now they’re helping each other and engaging each other in their conversations and in their answers and in their videos, so it’s really neat what I’m seeing in the classroom.”

What I love about Recap is that it has given those students a voice, it’s given them a voice.

Alfonso Mendoza
About Recap

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