This post has been awhile in coming…
Ever since Nashworld posted about the Art and Science of Questioning, I’ve been thinking about the moves teachers can use to facilitate classroom discussions. In Sean’s post, he described his role as a coach in gathering questioning behaviors of students and teachers.
I loved it. I’m hoping my teachers will too. We can really see how our questioning techniques can enhance and also hinder student learning. In my role as a coach, there are a myriad (Sidenote: I’m sorry, but I’ve loved that word ever since the movie Heathers) of ways we can tackle the art and science of questioning.
My Five Faves
When we start looking at questioning, here are my personal top five favorite questioning strategies.
1. Write out questions you plan to ask while preparing your lesson.
As silly as this seems, having a set of questions written down can ensure the path of learning you want to take, stays the course. You most likely will want to have the essential questions to be answered as well as clarifying questions you will ask throughout the activity to guide the discourse.
2. Make sure you have a variety of questions prepared.
Think of the process skills (compare/contrast, summarizing, inferences, etc.) and scaffold questions to build your learning goals.
3. To help move away from ping pong responses (teacher to student to teacher to student questioning), create prompts to promote student to student conversations.
In Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn, Suzanne Chapin describes several methods to promote “Talk Moves”. You may want to have students summarize what someone else said, extend or expand on a topic, or see if a student may agree.
- Can you repeat what Maggie just said in your own words?
- Do you agree with Trevor’s reasoning? Why or why not?
- Who thinks they can explain why this happened?
4. Provide opportunities for structured student to student social interactions.
There is enough research out there on how cooperative structures can foster increased retention of information. Pepper a discussion with sidebars. If you ask students to “Think, Write, Pair, Share” prior to beginning a classroom conversation, many students will be more willing and comfortable with responding.
5. Wait time… Wait time… Wait time…
Since college, we’ve been drilled with, “Wait two seconds before you call on a student.” But did you know, I’ve been hearing about additional wait times?
- Wait Time One–Some research states wait at least 10 seconds to allow students to think before calling on a student. This is especially important for questions that require deeper thought.
- Wait Time Two–Once you call on a student, give them at least the same amount of time to allow them to organize their thoughts.
- Wait Time Three–yes THREE– After a student responds, wait some MoRe before responding or asking a question. In the book Checking for Understanding by Fisher and Frey, they describe several gains that occur if you give this 3rd wait time. Students will expand on their own responses, they will go deeper and reflect more, and other students will respond and continue the conversations..
Questions, let’s ask’em to get’em thinkin’!
Artwork Thanks: Hand by Thomas Hawk on Flickr
Thinking Beyond by Carf on Flickr