Strategy: Increasing Opportunities to Respond

Check-Up Menu > Increasing Opportunities to Respond

Overview
An opportunity to respond (OTR) is any time you ask students an academic question (e.g., “What is 4+4?“). OTRs are essential for increasing overall learning, eliciting important academic feedback from students, and increasing on-task behavior. Providing OTRs at a brisk pace can be useful in increasing student attention and engagement because students are required to answer academic questions.
Purpose
Increasing your use of OTRs and using a brisk instructional pace during instruction has been shown to increase student academic engagement. When students are less engaged in instruction, they are more likely to demonstrate off-task or disruptive classroom behaviors.
There are six elements to using opportunities to respond effectively:
1) Ask academic questions that are relevant, meaning they are important and applicable to student experiences, and are provided at the appropriate level of rigor.
2) Incorporate variety and unpredictability into question asking so students learn they can be called on at any time.
3) Use OTRs to stimulate interest, challenge the class, and avoid predictability. Don’t use OTRs to try and catch inattentive students to punish or embarrass them. This can damage student-teacher relationships.
4) Ask group and individual student OTRs using a brisk pace. Having a brisk pace and interspersing between whole class and individual OTRs keeps students engaged.
5) Ensure all students are provided OTRs. Avoid calling on only those students who are more active participants.
6) Use the level of student accuracy to OTRs to inform instruction. When students’ responses are less than 80% accurate for new material or below 90% accurate on review materials, students may benefit from additional instruction and practice before moving on to additional material.
How To
How to Increase Opportunities to Respond in Your Classroom
There are a number of strategies that teachers find helpful in increasing the number of opportunities to respond they provide to students. The following are some ideas that you may find helpful:
  • Break complex problems down into smaller chunks, providing opportunities for students to answer for each chunk of the problem.
  • Use a deck of note cards or flash cards with drill-and-practice questions. Intersperse individual student responses with group choral responses.
  • Have each student use a small whiteboard to quickly write down answers to OTRs, holding it up to show the answer.
  • Have each student hold up two-sided cards with yes/no, true/false, agree/disagree with an answer to an OTR. Students could also use thumbs up or thumbs down to agree or disagree with an answer.
  • Mix brief, fast-paced teacher-directed review of previous material into every lesson, asking both individual and group responses.
  • Ask a question, allow think time, and then call on students without having them raise their hands.
  • If a student does not know the answer, allow some think time, then allow the student to “phone a friend” to help with the answer. Return to that student in a few minutes with the same question, giving the student an opportunity to respond correctly.
  • Ask an OTR and then draw a stick with a student’s name out of a jar. Once a student answers correctly, remove their stick from the pool until everyone gets a chance (see below).
If the student response to the question is: The correct teacher response is to:
Correct, quick, and firm Maintain the momentum of the lesson. Give a quick, “Right,” and present the next question.
Correct, but hesitant Praise the student for the correct response, and then review the reasons for the correct answer or the steps associated with finding the right answer.
Incorrect, but a careless error Give a quick, simple correction and allow the student to provide the correct answer. The feedback should make it clear what the correct answer should be. The feedback does not need to include the reasons why the information is correct.
Incorrect, due to lack of knowledge of facts or process Provide the student with prompts to lead them to the correct answer. Use the correction procedure for academic errors.
Example Videos:
Individual and Choral Responding

Video Prompts: 

  • Notice how she moves around the classroom as she asks questions of individual students.
  • She intersperses praise and describes what the students are doing well throughout.
  • She also asks the students to read and respond together.
  • She asks 14 OTRs in just over one minute. Wow!
  • What did you like about how the teacher included so many students and asked so many academic questions?
  • Why do you think the students were so engaged?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw and liked about from this video into your classroom practice?
White Board

Video Prompts: 

  • This lesson demonstrates using white boards during math story problems.
  • Notice how the teacher uses a fast pace and lets the students know when they have completed the answer correctly.
  • What did you like about how this teacher provided academic questions and gave students feedback?
  • How did she make fairly complicated math problems fun and interactive?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw and liked about how she explained the lesson in your classroom?
Yes Knocks

Video Prompts: 

  • This is an example of a teacher using “yes knocks” for students to respond to an academic question.
  • How might you use this type of opportunity to respond in your classroom?
  • What would you do if students were not responding correctly?
Show Answers on Chest

Video Prompts: 

  • This teacher provides an opportunity to respond by letting all students answer the question and show her on their chest.
  • Notice how quickly the students respond, providing the teacher with quick feedback on whether everyone understands.
  • What do you like about this way of having students answer?

Strategy Tool

Increasing OTRs - Strategy Tool
Use the Increasing OTRs in My Classroom strategy tool to help you increase your use of opportunities to respond.

Reflection

Increasing OTRs - Reflection
Take a moment to make sure your plan is going to work.

Goal Setting

Increasing OTRs - Goal Setting
Use the following goal sheet to determine whether or not your strategy produces the results you want.

References to Other Relevant Resources:

Reinke, W., Herman, K., & Sprick, R. (2011). Motivational interviewing for effective classroom management: The classroom check-up. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Sprick, R. (2009). CHAMPS: A proactive and positive approach to classroom management. Eugene, OR: Pacific Northwest Publishing.

Haydon, T., MacSuga-Gage, A. S., Simonsen, B., & Hawkins, R. (2012). Opportunities to Respond: A Key Component of Effective Instruction. Beyond Behavior, 22(1), 23-31.

    Increasing Opportunities to Respond

    Example 2: Teacher Interview

    Video Prompts

    • This teacher discusses the struggle between getting through academic work and building relationships.
    • She reflects on how building relationships can actually save time later on.

    Reflecting On Video

    • How important is relationship building to you when working with your students?
    • What are some ideas for what you can do in your classroom to build positive relationships with even the students who are hardest to reach?

    Teaching Classroom Routines

    Posting and Using a Schedule

    Coaching Process – Menu of Options

    Coaching Process – Providing Feedback

    Coaching Process – Introduction and Overview

    Observation Practice 4

    Observation Practice 3

    Observation Practice 2

    Observation Practice 1

    Verbal with Hand Signal

    Video Prompts

    • The students in this video are very excited about the activity. The teacher uses an attention signal that uses both her voice and a hand signal. Notice how quickly the students respond.
    • Notice that the teacher provides behavior-specific praise to the students who respond (see Using Behavior Specific Praise)
    • Her use of praise following a student responding helps to get other students on task and makes it more likely that students will respond quickly in the future.

    Reflecting On Video

    • What did you like about how this teacher used this attention signal?
    • How could you use a similar attention signal to help with transitions or giving instruction to your students?

    Handclap

    Video Prompts

    • This video shows a teacher using hand claps to gain the attention of the students before a transition.
    • Notice how the students clap back to show they know it is time to transition.
    • After gaining the attention of the students the teacher gives very specific directions so the students can transition smoothly.

    Reflecting On Video

    • What did you like about this attention signal?
    • How does using a signal like this help students transition to the next task smoothly?
    • How might you incorporate this or other attention signals into your daily teaching?

    Using an Attention Signal

    Physical Classroom Structure

    Developing and Using Clear Academic Objectives

    Values Card Sort – Example

    Card Sort Introduction

    Coaching – Interview Guide

    Opening the Meeting

    Defining and Teaching Classroom Rules

    Mrs. James

    Miss Faber

    Classroom Climate

    What is Classroom Climate?

    Classroom climate is a term used to give attention to a constellation of factors including teacher-student interactions, teacher tone, student-student interactions, the overall level of respect for one another, and classroom orderliness.
    Quotation mark
    Having positive, respectful teacher-student relationships is the foundation to effective classroom management.

    Why is it important?

    Positive classroom climates are ones in which students feel important, supported, respected, and valued. Classroom climates that foster effective teacher-student relationships are associated with increased academic engagement and student satisfaction with school. Climates where students do not feel respected or valued lead to student disengagement in school, resulting in higher levels of disruptive behavior.

    Concentration Areas

    Use of Noncontingent Attention
    Interactions with Students
    Level of Disruptive Behavior

    Behavior Management

    What is Behavior Management?

    Behavior management is a term used to give attention to classroom strategies that respond to student behaviors and the extent to which these are done consistently. Effective behavior management is NOT about gaining student compliance. Instead, effective behavior management includes strategies to promote positive classroom behaviors and prevent problems before they occur, while responding to misconduct in a calm and consistent manner.
    Quotation mark
    Effective behavior management is proactive, placing emphasis on preventing problems rather than waiting to punish behaviors after they occur.

    Why is it important?

    Effective behavior management practices are linked to improvements in student social behavior and academics. Ineffective behavior management in the classroom can interfere with academic instruction, increase student risk for emotional and behavior problems, and lead to high levels of teacher stress.

    Concentration Areas

    Behavioral Expectations Clear
    Active Supervision
    Use of Praise
    Use of Reprimands
    Positive to Negative Ratio
    Used Variety of Reinforcement

    ■ Instruction Management

    What is Instruction Management?

    Instructional management is a term used to give attention to teacher preparation of academic lessons and the extent to which academic instruction is rigorous, relevant, and delivered at a pace appropriate to the content. Effective instructional management keeps students engaged in learning and decreases disruptive or off-task student behaviors.
    Quotation mark
    Brisk pacing during teacher-led instruction has been shown to decrease problem behavior and increase academic achievement.

    Why is it important?

    There is a direct link between how instruction is delivered in a classroom and the behavior of students. Developmentally appropriate academic opportunities (i.e., those that are not too easy or too difficult) provide students mastery experiences that increase their academic efficacy. Further, when students are engaged in academic instruction, they have higher levels of achievement.

    Concentration Areas

    Schedule Posted and Followed
    Academic Objectives Clear
    Pacing
    Student Accuracy
    Student Engagement

    ▴ Classroom Structure

    What is Classroom Structure?

    Classroom structure is a term used to describe the actual physical layout of a classroom, organization of materials in the classroom, and the extent to which classroom expectations and routines are explicitly defined and taught. Well-structured classrooms are predictable and organized.
    Quotation mark
    Crowded and cluttered classrooms can set the stage for problem behaviors.

    Why is it important?

    Well-structured classrooms increase efficiency, leaving more time for instruction and the promotion of positive academic and social behaviors among students. These include increased student attention, friendlier peer interactions, and less disruptive behavior and aggression.
    Quotation mark
    Well-structured classrooms have established routines that align with classroom rules and expectations.

    Concentration Areas

    Physical Layout
    Classroom Rules
    Classroom Routines
    Smooth Transitions

    Reviewing the Schedule

    Video Prompts

    • Notice how this teacher reviews the schedule for the day with the students first thing in the morning.
    • This teacher demonstrates writing in cursive (a skill the class is working on) while going over the schedule.
    • She also provides opportunities to respond (see Increasing Opportunities to Respond) by asking them to read the words as she writes them.

    Reflecting On Video

    • What did you like about how the teacher reviewed the schedule for the day?
    • How could this be helpful to students?
    • How might you incorporate a review of the schedule into your mornings?

    Reviewing Writing Assignment

    Video Prompts

    • Notice how she asks both individual questions and gets the attention of the room by saying, “I am looking for my active listener.
    • She tells them what book she will be reading, “Seeds to Plants,” when they return from lunch.
    • Notice how she describes what the students will be required to do on the handout. She engages the class by asking questions along the way.

    Reflecting On Video

    • What did you like about how the teacher explained the objectives of the handout?
    • How do you think the students in that class are feeling?
    • How might you incorporate some of what you saw and liked about how she explained the lesson in your classroom?

    Example 1: Hug

    Video Prompts

    • This teacher greets every student as they come in the door in the morning.
    • Notice how the teacher states each student’s name.
    • Notice that students choose how they want to be greeted by receiving a hug or high five. This allows all the students to feel comfortable with the greeting.

    Reflecting On Video

    • What did you like about how this teacher greeted each student as they arrived?
    • How might you go about greeting each student?
    • What do you think the benefits are to greeting students every day?

    Example 2: Moving Between Desks

    Video Prompts

    • Notice how the teacher moves around the room between the desks, commenting on the work she sees as she goes.
    • Notice how the teacher provides behavior-specific praise (“I see very neat and pretty writing. Good job.“).

    Reflecting On Video

    • How do you think the way the teacher moved around the room and commented on the work helped to keep students on task?
    • What did you like about the way the teacher actively supervised the students’ work?
    • What could you do to make it easier for you to move around your classroom and use active supervision?

    Greeting Students at the Door

    Using Journals to Build Relationships

    Identifying Reinforcers for the Classroom

    Example 2: Sharing

    Video Prompts

    • A student is concerned about a peer using his pencil.
    • Notice how the teacher prompts possible solutions with a focus toward the students “doing their number one job.”
    • Notice how, despite the fact that the boy does not choose to share, the teacher compliments the peer who chose to give the pencil to the boy.
    • Notice how she points out that Sofia (peer) was so kind and was a good friend.
    • Notice how she calmly discusses how the boy in the video could think about sharing in the future.

    Reflecting On Video

    • What did you like about how this teacher used coaching to help the students solve the problem?
    • What might you do differently?
    • How do you see yourself using social-emotional coaching in your classroom?

    Example 1: Problem Solving

    Video Prompts

    • The students in this video are working together on an activity. One student comments that others are cheating.
    • Notice how the teacher recognizes the problem from across the room (see Using Active Supervision).
    • Notice how she prompts the students to find the solution.
    • Notice how she makes sure all the students understand the activity before leaving to help other students.
    • Her use of praise following a student responding helps to get other students on task and makes it more likely that students will respond quickly in the future.

    Reflecting On Video

    • What did you like about how this teacher used coaching to help the students solve the problem?
    • What might you do differently?
    • How do you see yourself using social-emotional coaching in your classroom?

    Using Social and Emotional Coaching

    Example 3: Learner Look

    Video Prompts

    • Listen for the behavior-specific praise statement, “I like how Brooke is ready to go with her learner look.”
    • Notice how this teacher provides feedback to the students who are demonstrating they are ready by having a “learner look.”
    • The “learner look” would be taught to the students by the teacher prior to use (see Teaching Behavior Expectations).

    Reflecting On Video

    • How can using behavior-specific praise help get students not ready to get on task more quickly?
    • What did you like about how the teacher used behavior-specific praise?
    • How do you think it made that student feel?
    • How might other students respond after hearing the teacher?
    • How might you use this strategy in your classroom?

    Example 2: Calling on Student

    Video Prompt

    • Watch how this teacher uses behavior-specific praise when calling on a student to answer a question.

    Reflecting On Video

    • How does using behavior-specific praise make it clear to students what the expectation is at that time?

    Example 1: Whole Class Compliment

    Video Prompts

    • In this video, you will see a teacher using several strategies, including providing behavior-specific praise.
    • Notice how she uses both individual and group opportunities to respond (see Increasing Opportunities to Respond).
    • Listen for when the teacher says, “Let’s give Bailey a big hand for doing such a good job,” prompting the whole class to compliment a student.
    • Lastly, notice how she uses behavior-specific praise (“I like the way people are raising their hands.“) to let students know it is important to raise their hands to answer.

    Reflecting On Video

    • What did you like about how this teacher used praise in her classroom?
    • How do you think Bailey felt when her class recognized her good work?
    • How might you incorporate some of what you saw in this video into your daily teaching?

    Using Behavior-specific Praise

    Example 3: Private Comments

    Video Prompts

    • Notice how the teacher checks in with each student as they do independent work.
    • She comments on their work, provides feedback as needed, and gives a lot of praise privately to each student.

    Reflecting On Video

    • How do you think the students felt as the teacher privately gave each praise or commented on their work?
    • What did you like about the way the teacher used active supervision here?
    • How might you incorporate some of what you saw in this video into your daily teaching?

    Example 1: Dot Charts

    Video Prompts

    • This video demonstrates a teacher using dot charts during active supervision.
    • Notice how the teacher comments on the student’s work, provides feedback, and then puts a dot on the student’s chart. When the chart is full, the student knows they will earn a reward.

    Reflecting On Video

    • How might using dot charts with your students help keep them engaged in their work?
    • What did you like about the way the teacher used active supervision here?
    • How might you incorporate some of what you saw in this video into your daily teaching?

    Using Active Supervision

    The Good Behavior Game: Rule - No Talking

    Video Prompts

    • Notice how the teacher introduces the game to the class and breaks them into groups.
    • The Good Behavior Game helps teach student self-regulation by having them inhibit or not display misbehavior. If misbehavior occurs, the team earns a point.
    • Notice how the teacher explains the rule for that day.
    • The teacher also lets the student know how long the game will occur and what the reward will be for the team with the fewest points.
    • Notice that the teacher allows the students to ask questions before the game begins.
    • Notice that the teacher provides the reward immediately at the end of the game.

    Reflecting On Video

    • What did you like about how this teacher used the Good Behavior Game?
    • How might you use the Good Behavior Game in your classroom?

    Using Group Contingencies

    Voice Level

    Video Prompts

    • This teacher has already taught her students to use a number system to monitor the level of sound they should be using during an activity.
    • In this video, as she is passing out an assignment, she provides a precorrection to a make sure the students use the appropriate level of their voice (level 1 no more than level 2).

    Reflecting On Video

    • How might giving this prompt prevent students from inadvertently being too loud during the assignment?
    • What did you like about how the teacher helped the students determine what level of sound was appropriate?
    • What activities or times of the day would it be useful to provide your students with a precorrection so that students know what to do before problems occur?

    Using Precorrection

    Teaching Behavior Expectations

    Providing Academic Feedback

    Example 4: Show Answers on Chest

    Video Prompts

    • This teacher provides an opportunity to respond by letting all students answer the question and show her on their chest.
    • Notice how quickly the students respond, providing the teacher with quick feedback on whether everyone understands.

    Reflecting On Video

    • What do you like about this way of having students answer?

    Example 3: Yes Knocks

    Video Prompts

    • This is an example of a teacher using “yes knocks” for students to respond to an academic question.

    Reflecting On Video

    • How might you use this type of opportunity to respond in your classroom?
    • What would you do if students were not responding correctly?

    Example 2: White Board

    Video Prompts

    • This lesson demonstrates using white boards during math story problems.
    • Notice how the teacher uses a fast pace and lets the students know when they have completed the answer correctly.

    Reflecting On Video

    • What did you like about how this teacher provided academic questions and gave students feedback?
    • How did she make fairly complicated math problems fun and interactive?
    • How might you incorporate some of what you saw and liked about how she explained the lesson in your classroom?

    Example 1: Individual and Choral Responding

    Video Prompts

    • Notice how she moves around the classroom as she asks questions of individual students.
    • She intersperses praise and describes what the students are doing well throughout.
    • She also asks the students to read and respond together.
    • She asks 14 OTRs in just over one minute. Wow!

    Reflecting On Video

    • What did you like about how the teacher included so many students and asked so many academic questions?
    • Why do you think the students were so engaged?
    • How might you incorporate some of what you saw and liked about from this video into your classroom practice?

    Welcome