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Prompting means encouraging the learner to use what they already know and can do. It is an effective strategy to focus students’ attention and to build their metacognitive awareness and their confidence. In order to prompt effectively, the teacher needs a detailed knowledge of the learner. Prompting may take the form of a strong hint, a clue, or a gentle “nudge” to help students use their existing knowledge and literacy strategies to make connections and reach a solution. A prompt often takes the form of a question and involves allowing “wait time” to give students the opportunity to develop and express their own ideas.
These are examples of teachers using prompting strategically. Other deliberate acts of teaching can easily be identified.
Teacher I think you could work out how to write the word “tooth”.
Student I could write down all the sounds I can hear.
Teacher Good! Then how could you check whether you were right?
“You might need to check your conclusion again – if you look at the success criteria you may see that there’s something more you need to do.”
“Josh, you said ‘shop’, then you changed it to ‘stop’. You knew something was wrong …”
“I know you know the sound for ___. Let me see you write it.”
“I wonder why Dad thought Jack wasn’t telling the truth. There could be a clue on this page that you just read.”
“You could make those words stand out. Remember the story in guided reading yesterday. What did the words look like in the part where the farmer shouted?”