Pose, Pause, Pounce & Bounce (PPPB) is a questioning technique used by teachers to promote deeper thinking and discussion in lessons.
Pose, Pause, Pounce & Bounce is actually one of my top five questioning technique that I like to use in lessons. If you are interested in finding out what the other four are you can read this article:
The teacher starts by posing a question for students to answer. The question asked should be open-ended to allow students an opportunity to provide a range of differing viewpoints.
Closed questions and lower order questions are less effective for this questioning technique as students can only respond with simple answers and they will not generate the depth and breadth of discussion and debate that is desired.
By using open-ended questions there is often no ‘right’ answer but instead each student’s individual thoughts are valid and can contribute towards the discussion.
Examples of open-ended questions may include:
Once the teacher has posed an appropriate question, it is important to pause and allow sufficient time for students to think and provide a response.
Allowing sufficient thinking time is often overlooked by teachers and this is an essential part of the questioning process. This is known as ‘wait time’ – the time given between asking a question and expecting a response.
The term ‘wait time’ was first coined in 1972 by Mary Budd Rowe. She conducted an observational research study which found that the average wait time given by teachers was only 1.5 seconds. She even found an example of wait time being as short as 0.1 seconds.
This study was conducted a number of years ago in the 1970s, however numerous studies have been conducted over recent decades and all have demonstrated broadly consistent findings.
It is therefore evident that when teachers ask a question they normally don’t allow sufficient time for students to think and respond.
Wait time can potentially be shorter when students are required to recall information and facts they already know (closed questions), but when asking questions which require students to generate new thinking and learning it is essential that an appropriate amount of wait time is provided.
There is no precise amount of time that teachers should allow before asking a student for a response but it has been advised in more recent studies that 10-20 seconds would be a more appropriate wait time to allow more meaningful thinking to take place.
Don’t be scared of the silence. Teachers are taught to keep their lessons moving and to maintain active participation at all times, so silence can feel uncomfortable for teachers. But it is important to take a moment to slow the lesson down and allow time for students to think and provide a meaningful response.
The teacher has posed an appropriate question, allowed sufficient time for students to think and provide a response, and now it’s time for the teacher to pounce on a student for an initial answer.
The thought of pouncing on a student can be quite terrifying for the student and the teacher. However, the word ‘pounce’ is probably only included in this technique because it rhymes with ‘bounce’.
Rather than pouncing on a student, the teacher will select an appropriate student to provide an initial response to the question.
As the teacher has asked an open-ended question, with no right or wrong answer, most students will feel safe and comfortable providing a response.
This could be a full answer, a partial answer, some key words or a single fact; whatever the student is able and willing to provide will act as the starting point for discussion.
Once a student has provided an initial answer to the question, the Teacher will bounce the student’s response to another student.
By doing this the teacher will ask the second student what they think about the first student’s response.
Do they agree or disagree? Do they have something else to add? Do they want to provide a different answer?
The idea of students agreeing, building upon and challenging each other’s ideas and responses is aligned with ABC Questioning, another simple and effective questioning technique that i would encourage all teachers to use in lessons.
But this questioning strategy doesn’t need to end here. You can reuse any stage of the process again to keep the discussion going.
For example, you could continue to pounce and bounce questions and responses around the group to generate a much broader discussion; obtaining multiple perspectives and opinions.
Alternatively, you could pose a new question, pause for thought and then pounce and bounce to take the discussion off in a new direction.
Ultimately, this is a flexible questioning technique which you can use as you feel is best to meet the needs of your students and the type of discussion they are having.
The beauty of Pose, Pause, Pounce & Bounce is in its versatility. It can be used for almost any subject or topic, any stage of learning, all age groups and at any point within a lesson.
Ultimately, Pose, Pause, Pounce & Bounce can be used whenever there is an opportunity for discussion and debate.
It can be used at the start of the lesson to check prior knowledge on a topic and to actively engage students in the lesson. It could be used at the end of a lesson as part of a lesson plenary. Or, it could be used at any point within the lesson when students are required to engage in discussion.
Pose, Pause, Pounce & Bounce also works for whole class activities as well as smaller group tasks.
The effectiveness of using this questioning technique comes from the teacher’s understanding of how to use the different sequential stages in the appropriate order, and how to vary and repeat each stage to get the most of out the discussion.
The more a teacher uses this technique the more naturally they can use it to effortlessly fcilitate deep and meaningful discussions in lessons.
The teacher begins by posing the following (open-ended) question:
Why are the UK government more focusing in promoting STEM subjects compared to arts and humanities subjects?
The teacher would then pause, for at least 10 seconds, to allow students time to think about how they may respond to the question.
The teacher will then pounce on a student and ask them to provide an initial answer. The student may respond by saying:
I think the government are focusing on STEM subjects as they want more scientists and engineers for the future.
This response can then be bounced to another student to see if they agree or disagree, or to see if they have anything further to add.
The second student may say:
The government are focusing more on STEM subjects because they are more important than humanities and arts.
The teacher may wish to bounce the same question to another student to gain their response. This third student may say:
I disagree, arts and humanities are equally as important as STEM subjects.
The teacher can continue to bounce the question from student to student asking questions which facilitate discussion and debate. For example the teacher could ask:
Do you agree with this statement?
What evidence do you have to support that claim?
Why are arts and humanities not considered to be as important?
Alternatively, the teacher could pose a new question, pause to allow students time to think and then progress the discussion by taking it in a new direction.
This is an absolute teaching classic and every teacher should have this simple technique up their sleeve. Someone who promotes this technique is the fantastic Dylan Wiliam so I would recommend you check him out if you want to find out more about PPPB.