1 October 2021

Whole School CPD Focus:

Feedback and Questioning

Walkthru Cluster:


‘Cold Calling’ (page 90) plus the Teacher Workbook




Starting Point





As we move into a new month, we re-focus our professional development for this term to feedback and questioning.  Doug Lemov’s ‘cold-calling’ is unpicked by Sherrington in his Walkthru (and indeed was demonstrated by him at our recent Teaching and Learning Conference).  It is suggested that ‘cold calling’ should be the default, go-to mode of questioning, with students decided by the teacher.  Its purpose is two-fold: to involve all students by requiring each of them to think of the possible answer; whilst also providing useful feedback to the teacher as to learning taking place.


Since Sherrington’s visit, this Walkthru has clearly had an impact with many teachers using it to sharpen their practice, engaging students and making them active participants within their learning.  Cold-calling optimises student response and also avoids the same volunteers answering all of the questions.


The main stages of cold-calling are as follows:

  1. Ask a question
  2. Allow thinking time
  3. Select someone to respond
  4. Respond to answers
  5. Select another student and respond again.


As soon as the teacher asks a question, this is the signal to students to be ready as they may be asked to answer. It keeps every student alert and prevents ‘coasting’ and opt-out. 


The thinking time allotted may range from 5 seconds to 30 seconds (longer if complex); during this time, the teacher will scan the room to ensure that all are engaged and thinking of a response. This is the time to decode body language and non-verbal cues.  Are students really thinking?


Stage three is the stage that will start to put students under pressure and will require perseverance as teachers must wait for a response and use an invitational style to elicit it: ‘James, what are you thinking’.  Sherrington, quite rightly, emphasises the importance of low-judgement responses here; building confidence is an important element of this Walkthru.


The next stage, respond to answers, is important and should form a short exchange, whereby learning and understanding is discussed and explored.  This may be used in conjunction with other Walkthrus such as Process Questions, Probing Questions or ‘Say It Again, Better’.


The final stage (although other layers could be added into this process), allows the exchange to be repeated and for extensions to be offered.  This is also an opportunity to invite a range of responses from students who are confident, to those who are less so.


This Walkthru is revolutionises classroom practice and really encourages the Walton le Dale High School ASPIRE ethos within lessons.  All students should feel that their opinion counts and they should feel poised and ready to share it.

CPD Cascade


Free online training to tackle sexual harassment, language and gender stereotyping.


National College

Remember that there are subject-specific watchlists available in National College (several staff still to log in please).

Posted by Rachel Long

Category: Teaching and Learning Digests

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