Alternative to ‘hands up’

Hi everyone,

Imagine the scenario – you’ve just asked a key question. You want to make sure your students understand the concept you are teaching, you want to get them all involved, you want to quickly assess their understanding of the math concept you have just taught them. This is where multiple choice answer cards come into play.


I give each student in my class a set of four multiple choice answer cards labelled A, B, C or D. They are quick and simple to make from pieces of colored card. Here’s how it works –  I ask a question and  give four possible answers labelled from A through to D, one correct and three incorrect. The students work out the answer and pick the correct answer card. They can either move it closer to them, away from the other cards, or hold their chosen answer up. This way, every student in the classroom is actively involved in working out the answer. It relieves the ‘everyone is looking at me’ pressure on the more reserved students and gives them a chance to provide an answer in a less stressful way. Its is also great for those kinaesthetic learners as they can physically manipulate the answer cards in front of them, moving the answers they have discounted away from them. When the students have chosen their answer, you can do a quick assessment of the understanding of every individual in your class.

It is great to use in paired talk and get students to consider the different options. The cards can also be used as props in discussion, i.e. which of the following four items do you consider to be the most important for…?  Students can order the cards according to their own thoughts and opinions.

Obviously I still do use traditional hands up as well when the students are given no answer options and it is still important to ask open questions but this is nice little alternative to use now and again to get every student in the class involved in providing answers!

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