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Spring week 2

Mentor materials

Observation discussion - anticipating and identifying misconceptions through questioning

Teaching techniques to focus feedback on




To have planned for and practised structuring questions to enable the identification of knowledge gaps and misconceptions


A question type that can be a useful tool for identifying knowledge gaps and misconceptions is a hinge question. A hinge question can take the form of an individual question, or multiple-choice question, and they are a check for understanding that allows you to gather assessment information from the whole class simultaneously. The reason they are called a hinge question is that they come at the ‘hinge-point’ of the lesson, this is a point where:

  1. you move from one key idea / task / learning point to another.
  2. understanding the content before the hinge is a prerequisite for the next part of the lesson.

The results of the hinge question will determine whether you move on to the next chunk of learning, or work to consolidate, practise or reteach the previous concept further. They are also very useful at helping you to determine whether a pupil has met the lesson objective or not.

Observe your teacher as they ask the hinge question and subsequently act on the information it gives them. Focus on the following:

  • A what point was the question asked? Why did your teacher ask it there?
  • Did the question allow your teacher to ascertain a snapshot of all pupils’ levels of understanding?
  • Did the question have any anticipated misconceptions built in?
  • What did your teacher do with the information they gathered? (e.g. The stopped the class or they worked with a small group) Did you agree with their decision?

Praise, probe and set precise actions

The following practise should be focused around the outcomes of the probe and precise actions, so that it is specific to your teacher’s developmental needs. However, below are some practise ideas based on the online study content to support you if needed.

Plan and practice ideas

The rest of the mentor interaction should focus on designing and practising a hinge question for an upcoming lesson. It could also be an opportunity to redesign and improve the question that your teacher displayed in the observed lesson.

Key questions and talking points

  1. What is the purpose of a hinge question?
  2. Where are typical ‘hinge-points’ in a lesson?
  3. What information were you hoping to gather from your question?