Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

Quiet Students Will Ask a Question When They Can Ask Digitally

ask a question digitally
Quiet Students Will Ask a Question When They Can Ask Digitally

ask a question digitally

Quiet Students Are More Likely to Ask a Question When They Can Ask Digitally

Some students will never raise their hand in class or come over to your desk. There are a variety of reasons students will not raise their hand. It may be personal, they are afraid of looking stupid in front of their peers, someone else already asked and they don’t want to ask again, or they may just feel uncomfortable speaking up.

Ask a Question Digitally

When students can ask digitally they can safely ask a question. There are many options for allowing students to ask a question:

  • Encourage students to send you an email.
  • Use Google Voice to allow students to text you messages.
  • Share Google Keep note.
  • Connect with students on Voxer.
  • Have students share an Evernote account with you.

Google Classroom Private Comments

My favorite method is to utilize the Private Comments in Google Classroom. Every single assignment created in Google Classroom automatically have a Private Comments spot. This allows students to privately say something to the teacher.
Students can ask a question in private comments

Locate Questions

As a teacher, I can click on any assignment title and see the roster of my students. If they left me a Private Comment I can see a preview of the student question/comment.
Student left a private comment

Reply to Students

Google Classroom Private Comments not only allow students to ask you a question, but also allow you to reply as well. Teacher replies in Google Classroom


Even if a student will ask a question, they may not persist. I remember many times as a student where I did not understand the teacher’s answer, but did not want to admit it in front of all my peers. With Private Comments, students can ask for extended explanation. A back and forth conversation is much more feasible when it is digital rather than during classtime.
Conversation in Private Comments

5 thoughts on “Quiet Students Will Ask a Question When They Can Ask Digitally

  1. Hi Alice, Like you I’m a massive fan of Google Classroom and I’ve also found that quiet students will happily engage in private comments where they wouldn’t in a class environment, it really helps with getting engagement. Also the class comment can be used as a great forum for class discussion. I have written a review of Google Classroom after a year of use in my school on my blog that your readers may find useful. https://teacherofsci.com/google-classroom/

    1. Thank you for sharing!! I have not tried the “class comment” in my Google Classroom. I like the idea of it being a way to have a class discussion. I teach middle school art and find that critiquing is difficult for my students in person. My students seem much more willing to give a critique if they aren’t in the spotlight, physically, as in writing….but I don’t want to have to collect a bunch of paper. Could possibly post their art work and have a class critique using class comment.

  2. I am working on the idea of developing an Anti-Bullying Alliance in my school next fall. However, due to the nature of the students being bullied (usually cyber-bullied), I would like to set up an all-school system of private messaging for victims to share what has happened to them and for other students to confidentially share what they know about certain bullying situations. Not sure what the best option would be in a school of around 700 middle schoolers

    1. It would be possible to use Google Classroom for this if you got all the students to enroll in one class. You can have 700 students in the same class and multiple co-teachers. Just be sure to monitor for email alerts because you want to pounce QUICKLY! What might be nice is that you can push out every two weeks an assignment to ask students for a status if they are feeling bullied. Would be a decent way to make a connection, most students will not reply but could still be a significant number. While time consuming, interacting with students personally is never a waste of time. Then they know you’ll reply so that if they do have an issue they have built trust with you. Would be fun to use the same Classroom class to send out polls like “Do you think we will win the football game on Friday?” and other things infrequently to keep engagement in the class.

  3. This is great advice! Thank you!! I didn’t realize that Google Classroom could have up to 700 students. That’s a bit over our entire student body, so everyone can be involved. I would like to get my administration on board and require each student to be a part of this Google Classroom from the first day of school. I will be working on getting teachers and counselors involved before school even begins so I can have help answering questions, etc. I love the idea of asking regular questions each week to get people talking in sort of a social media community and not just about bullying. I’m excited to get this ball rolling. I really appreciate your words of wisdom and will continue to follow your awesome blog!

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