Hinge Questions

Kevin Watling is an Assistant Head at Teddington School, Richmond-upon-Thames.

In this blog Kevin shares his experience of incorporating ‘hinge questions’ into his teaching practice.


Hinge Questions

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, let’s start with a brief definition: hinge questions are short, closed questions focused on a key concept; they’re asked during the middle of a lesson, and every student must answer them.

The results of these questions then determine how the rest of the lesson proceeds: if the concept has been understood, you move on; if not, you recap or try a different approach.

We decided to implement hinge questions at Teddington precisely because we were looking for ways to make our current teaching practice more adaptive to student needs. Hinge questions are just one of many strategies that we’re using to create outstanding lessons, capable of demonstrating progress made within the lesson.

Using Doddle quizzes and the online markbook, we’ve been able to quickly set up a system by which teachers analyse hinge question results during the lesson, and adapt the second half of their lesson accordingly.

Implementing this kind of formative assessment during class is incredibly powerful because it allows you to intervene at a much earlier stage than if you follow a traditional assessment model.

Teacher response to this initiative has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, many of our teachers are now developing differentiated lesson plans; the route of the lesson depending on ‘hinge results’.

What we’ve also found, is that adapting and differentiating lessons in this way has had a knock-on effect on student engagement. Teaching a set lesson with little feedback as to the level of student understanding, one runs the risk of confusing some students, and boring others. Asking hinge questions allows you to adapt to student needs as they arise, ensuring that students stay engaged in what they’re learning.

Kevin Watling

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