What is Fist to Five Strategy?

fisttofiveFist to five is a qualitative rating scale by which students can express their opinions, levels of confidence, comprehension, and readiness for task, to reach a general consensus. This quick, simple strategy serves as a feedback tool and can be used to rate the effectiveness of various strategies and technologies introduced in the class.

The strategy can be a simple three-point scale or a more specific six-point scale based on the needs of the classroom. Teachers can decide and specify the levels of rating depending on the context (that is if we are seeking consensus, gaining a feedback etc).

Strategy in the classroom:

While introducing the strategy, use a visual aid (a template or a picture) depicting the ranking. For example, if you are to ask students to rate their level of understanding regarding a topic, an image of a fist would indicate a total lack of understanding, that of three fingers would represent partial comprehension with need for further clarification and explanation and an open hand would indicate complete understanding.

Next, write down a list of topic related objectives. These should be specific and must target the points for assessment or feedback. These are shown using a flipchart, transparency or written on the board.

After reading out each objective, students are instructed to raise their fist or fingers according to their level of comprehension, allowing teachers to evaluate the outcomes or obtain a feedback of their teaching.

Points to consider:

When individual needs such as comprehension and knowledge of topic, are rated, use of the strategy may be complex, i.e. some students may raise their fists while others three fingers. In such cases, asking each student their query and providing clarification or explanation may be time consuming. A simple solution to this is to group the students and allot them some time to read and discuss the objectives. During this time students can write down the points that need clarity or elaboration and choose a rating indicating the collective understanding of the members of that group. Thus when asked, each group can raise their choice or rating of the objective and it will be simpler for the teacher to address their points.

An alternative is to create an exit slip with the images and the objectives. Students can mark each objective accordingly. You can also add a space for students to mention their specific difficulties and these can be addressed in the next class.  This is also useful when gaining feedback regarding degrees of confidence, readiness to tasks etc. Random questioning, at times, can ensure the honest use of the strategy.

The group method also works best for consensus seeking. The proposal or initiative can be discussed by each group before they indicate their agreement or disagreement. As facilitator, you can ask each group to present their reasons for disagreement and initiate a discussion for a solution. Thus, this strategy facilitates a diplomatic negotiation of ideas or proposals.

Discuss here: What are some strategies that you use to encourage students to express their opinions during class?    

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