Sunday, September 29, 2013

Blog Post #6

What do we need to know about asking questions to be an effective teacher?

child thinking and holding a green question mark
While researching this topic, I came up with a few conclusions of what we need to know about asking questions to be an effective teacher and how to implement an effective plan towards this. One of the first articles that I read was, The Right Way to Ask Questions in the Classroom. In this article, it was asked "What does a teacher asking questions of a class expect the class to learn from the questioning process?" Which essentially means, what is the point of asking questions in the classroom? Are you trying to assess how much your students have actually learned or are you just trying to pass some time until the bell rings. We need to quit assuming that our teaching style is effective on all our students and make sure we learn how to teach effectively for all students. Most importantly we need to stop asking "Does everybody understand?", listening for a few "yeses" and then moving on to the next topic or subject. Asking questions like the above question doesn't confirm understanding, it only confirms that a teacher is getting ready to move on.

One way that we, as teachers, can prepare for asking better questions is to assess our lesson plan and put questions in our lesson where we want those questions asked. Figure out where questions would be effective. Would asking questions in the middle of the lecture or activity help assess understanding. In, Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom some other ideas are "Play with Questions" and "Preserve Good Questions". When you play with the questions that you are going to ask, you are trying to figure out how to best engage your students. At what point will your question be the most thought-provoking. You could write a question on the board for students to see when they come into class but not answer it for awhile. You could have students get together and answer the question to a group consensus, then collect the answers and then discuss the correct answer with the class. Preserving good questions asked is important also. When you know the answer to the questions you are going to ask your class, you don't realize that they still might not understand what you are teaching. When a student asks you a good question, remember it and add it to your lesson plan because another student may want to know the same thing.
a sign stating what do you remember about my story

When asking questions in your classroom don't forget to validate your student's answer and respond appropriately. Asking Questions to Improve Learning is a resource that pointed out five things to help students respond effectively to your questions. The first thing you should do is "wait for students to think and formulate responses". You should wait 5 - 10 seconds after asking the students a question before selecting or picking someone to answer the question. This will encourage all students to think about the answer to the question because they aren't sure if they will be picked or not. Second thing to remember is "do not interrupt students' answers". If you allow a student to finish what they are trying to say, it will help you to know if they understand the lesson and it can also lead to giving credit for their idea. Thirdly, "show that you are interested in students' answers, whether right or wrong". Don't look away from a student as they are talking, look at them and acknowledge them and show you are listening to them. Some students need to feel encouraged to speak out in a classroom of their peers and by showing interest you can help with that. Fourth thing you can do is "develop responses that keep students thinking." You can do this by asking another student to respond to a previous students answer or even ask the student that asked the question how they came up with that answer. Lastly, "if a student gives an incorrect answer or weak answer, point out what is incorrect or weak about the answer, but ask the student a follow-up question that will lead that student, and the class, to the correct or stronger answer". If the student has overlooked an important part of the lesson plan in their answer, you can ask them to recall something about the lesson plan to help lead them to the answer and also open the questions up to the class.

In order to be an effective teacher, what I need to know most about asking questions is that I need to engage my students. If I am going to ask 300 questions a day, they need to be productive and worthwhile. I need to make sure that all my students understand the lesson plan before moving on and the way to ensure that to ask lots and lots of questions.

1 comment: