2.1 Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques

2.1 Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques – Most of the teacher’s questions are of high quality. Adequate time is provided for students to respond [1]. Learning how to ask the right question at the right time can make a huge difference in one’s teaching. It is not enough to just ask whatever questions come to mind; instead, teachers should strategically plan and shape their questions for a specific purpose. Questioning is a valuable tool that if used thoughtfully, can make a huge impact on student learning [1]. Recently, I have been applying this concept by taking what I’ve learned from my research and practicing it in the classroom. My evidence for this standard will come from both my coursework and my internship.

In the article, The Right Question at the Right Time, the author separates “good questions” form “bad questions.” Below is an excerpt that explains the characteristics of a good question [2].

A good question is the first step toward an answer; is a problem to which there is a solution. A good question is a stimulating question which is an invitation to a closer look, a new experiment or a fresh exercise. The right question leads to where the answer can be found: to the real objects or events under study, there where the solution lies hidden. The right question asks children to show rather than to say the answer: they can go and make sure for themselves (Elstgeest, 36-37).

These ideas have really challenged me to think about questioning more carefully and plan out some strong questions to ask before teaching a lesson. I used the following list of possible questions that I was given in my science methods course (EDSC 4250) to help me do so [2].

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I decided to take this information on questioning and apply it during a science lesson in my classroom. During this lesson, students were making predictions in their science notebooks on planting fava beans in three different types of soil: sand, clay, and humus. As students were writing, I went around the room and asked some of these questions to help spark their ideas. Many students were quick to come up with a prediction but had trouble justifying and explaining their answers. I worked with one student and asked him: “What data is that claim based on? Can you put that another way? How does what you are saying relate to the investigation we did last week?” as he described his ideas to me. It was my prompting of these questions that encouraged this student to look back at his observation notes from earlier and use that data to produce a thoughtful prediction [3]. The student’s written prediction is shown below [2].

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Through my questioning, I encouraged the student to write specifically why he chose humus over the other two soil components. I wanted the student to be able to express why he thinks humus is best for plant growth and not just why sand and clay are not best. As seen in the example, the student includes both in his prediction [3].

Having had this experience, I have learned that there is great value to the skillful use of questioning. In order to ask the “good questions,” teachers should plan some out before a lesson, and be specific and purposeful with what they are asking their students [4]. Using questioning as a tool in the classroom can have an amazing effect on student learning. What teachers should aim to do through questioning is to guide their students in developing a deeper understanding of the context [5]. We should be challenging our students to think critically, make comparisons, question others, and so much more. By putting more thought into the way we ask questions, this type of learning can be achieved [5]. For the future, my goal is to continue to plan questions ahead of time [6]. Sometimes the right question will come naturally, but it’s always a good idea to have a set of questions prepared that can be used to guide students. Especially as a new teacher, I think this is a strategy that will really help me develop this skill.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.” –Albert Einstein

 

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References

Elstgeest, Jos. (1985). The Right Question at the Right Time. Primary Science: Taking the Plunge. Oxford, England: Heinemann Educational, 36-46.

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