Tagged: questioning

‘Quick wins’ #4 – Deeper questioning

Class

Why? Does anyone else find that every time they think of a brilliant, challenging, barnstorming question, their classroom suddenly resembles this image? No? Me neither. Too often I’ve found that after asking a question, I wasn’t placing a high enough demand on all of the class to consider it. I also noticed that, on occasion, I would ask questions which meant that most pupils did not need to do any thinking. For instance:

“Alex, why might Shakespeare have chosen to start ‘Macbeth’ with the three witches?” Potentially quite an interesting question, but by stating the name of the student first, it’s more difficult to guarantee that other students are also considering the question. Easily fixed:

“Why might Shakespeare have chosen to start ‘Macbeth’ with the three witches? (pause) Alex?” This seems better on the surface, asking the question, then giving wait time, then referring to Alex. But is there any real guarantee or that all students will be thinking?

Possible solution? In the video below, Dylan William describes the difference between ‘table tennis’  and ‘basketball’ style questioning, an analogy which I’m sure many teachers are familiar with. This ties in with the technique Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce which you can read about here.

However, if we want to use these techniques, we need to ensure that all students have fully thought about the question. In order to achieve this, I’ve been trying to make my initial question much more tenacious, demanding that everyone thinks about this question, and making sure that I’ve repeated the question at least twice. Now my question looks something like this:

“Right guys, I’m going to ask you a question and I need everyone to think about it. (pause to check listening) Why might Shakespeare have chosen to start ‘Macbeth’ with the three witches? Think really carefully about how this might affect the play. How would starting the play with the witches affect his audience? Think about it. Why might Shakespeare have chosen to start the ‘Macbeth’ with the three witches. (pause)”

After repeating the question, and giving plenty of wait time I’ll ask a student to offer an answer, before passing the question onward and building a discussion.

Variation. After the repeated question, give everyone a short amount of time to jot down their initial thoughts. Doug Lemov, in Teach Like a Champion calls this technique ‘Everybody Writes’. In his words:

“Effective teachers also set their students tp to hold rigorous discussions and reach rigorous conclusions by giving them the opportunity to reflect first in writing before discussing”

Resources.

Deeper Questions grid

Deeper Questioning grid (PDF) by @JOHNSAYERS

Reflective Deeper Questioning grid (PDF) @JOHNSAYERS

@JOHNSAYERS Blog post on questioning

This page from @MsFindlater collects together a range of very useful blog posts on questioning.

Often, I return back to this post from @HuntingEnglish, giving ten clear and easy to follow questioning strategies. This is also where I first saw the Dylan William video.

Outcome. Just as repeating instructions tends to lead to greater clarity before an extended task, repeating and rewording the question tends to lead to more thinking and more valuable discussion. With enthusiastic younger classes this means more excitable faces, more hands flying up into the air and more incredulous expressions as I demand on ‘no hands up’. With older classes, more meaningful discussion, more students willing to build on each other’s ideas, and less students idly letting just one of their peers do all the thinking.

Post submitted by:

@mr_bunker_edu

@mr_bunker_edu’s Blog

#neverstoplearning

‘Quick wins’ #1 – Question tokens.

First in a series of posts about quick wins in the classroom. The aim of these posts is to provide teachers with ideas that can be tried in their classroom with minimal preparation time.

photo-11

Question tokens used to force students to think about what they are asking and consider whether their problem can be solved independent of the teacher.

Why? I wanted students to become more independent and rely less on me for help. Quite often I see students giving up too easily and going to the teacher for help rather than persevering with a problem. I’ve also noticed that students ask a lot of lazy questions (when they can ask an unlimited amount of questions) without any real thought behind them.

Possible solution? Question tokens. I gave each student three question tokens and set 2 rules for the entirety of the lesson:

1. You can only ask the teacher 3 questions throughout today’s lesson.

2. You can ask each other as many questions as you like.

Resources.

Question tokens (Download for free – please share with colleagues)

Outcome. I tried this with a year 11 GCSE Computing class who were working through some programming challenges. The question tokens encouraged students to seek advice from their peers and if this led to a dead end, they had to research a possible answer using the Internet or come up with a well thought out question to ask me. I witnessed the students demonstrating more GRIT then in previous lessons as they appeared to be quite precious of the question tokens – they would rather struggle through a problem and find a solution themselves then ask me for help. Quite remarkable!

Post submitted by:

@mrocallaghanedu

Mr O’Callaghan’s blog

#neverstoplearning

Feedback. Please let us know how ‘question tokens’ worked for you. Leave a comment on this post or tweet us at @nslhub.