Sunday, September 14, 2014

Blog Post #4

Asking Questions: What questions do we ask? How do we ask?

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

The Goal of a Question
typography question mark made of commonly asked questions
According to Ben Johnson on The Right Way to Ask Questions in The Classroom, teachers do not know everything and student are not always ignorant. In the questioning process, we expect students to ask questions if they are not understanding the material; however, sometimes students don't even realize that they do not understand! I have been on this side of the questioning process too many times to not agree with that statement. Students don't understand that they don't understand, or many times some students are embarrassed to ask questions in front of their classmates. The Right Question Institute believes that strong critical thinking skills are fostered by the questions that are asked in the classroom. Unfortunately, the process to asking good questions is rarely taught. Teachers and students both should now how to ask questions. In Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom, Maryellen Weimer says, "Good questions make students think, they encourage participation and I think they improve the caliber of the answers students give and the questions they ask."

Open Ended Vs. Close Ended

When questions are asked that do not provoke critical or thoughtful responses, the answers tend to be exactly what we would expect, dull and shallow. The videos Asking Better Questions in the Classroom and Open Ended Questions discuss two types of questions, one which promotes thought and one that does not. These two types of questions can be categorized into close ended questions and open ended questions.

pencil writing the word why
Close Ended Questions- When a question is close ended, it is typically structured so that it almost
answers itself. Students do not have to give much thought to these questions. One word answers typically suffice for these. Close ended questions typically take the form of asking why, what, or where.

Open Ended Questions- When a questions is open ended, it leaves the student to form the answer to the question. Students must respond and think about the question before they can answer it. Open ended questions can be phrased in ways such as for what reasons, in what ways, describe in detail, or generate a list.

Three Approaches to Bettering Questions:  according to Maryellen Weimer in Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom

1. Prepare
Preparing questions will keep the students from getting confused. When questions are not prepared, sometimes they do not come across correctly. In order to maximize learning, questions should be refined as you ask them. Making notes on what worked and what didn't further optimizes the questioning process for future classes. When teachers actively work on improving their questions, it can show students the importance of the questioning process.

2. Play
Playing with questions promotes the students to think about them. Ask a question at the beginning of class and leave it unanswered for a while. Students can come up with marvelous answers if just given the time and encouragement to think.

3. Preserve
Teachers should preserve not only their own questions but also the questions of their students. The questions asked by the teacher should be revised and saved, and those that did not work should be trashed or tried again in a different form. The most important part of preservation is saving the questions of students. Questions asked by students are questions about something the student realized they did not understand. It also shows the students that teachers value what their students say, especially if you get the student to write the question down so you can keep it.

Simple, Effective Approach

We have seen what questions to ask, but how do we ask them? In my experience, most teachers just ask a question and wait for sometime to answer, but what is the most effective way to ask questions? Many times teachers get in the habit of always asking questions the same way or calling on the same children to answer those questions. When the students know who is going to be asked to answer, many students tune out the question and never give any thought to an answer. There are many simple, effective approaches to asking questions that will promote the entire class to think. One of these approaches is asking open questions, but the students need to know that they are all expected
What you think, you become
to formulate an answer. The video Questioning Styles and Strategies shows a combination of different questioning methods, each being highly effective. Changing how you go about getting an answer each time provides the classroom with just enough spontaneity to show the students that all of them are expected to analyze the question to discover an answer. One example described in The Right Way to Ask Questions in The Classroom includes asking a question, pausing a few seconds, and then calling on someone to answer. Once that child has answered, call on them to answer again at some point. This way students will know that once they have answered their turn is not over; therefore, they cannot zone out and stop thinking of answers.

Responding Effectively

respond logo with outline of a man with a red heartWhen it comes to questioning, last but definitely not least is knowing how to respond to your own questions as well as responding to student questions. Asking Questions to Improve Learning emphasizes this importance. Key goals when responding to questions are to never answer your own questions, never interrupt, show interest when students respond, and to point out the wrong or weak areas in a response while leading the student into the right answer. Altogether, teachers should lead their students to appreciate the questioning process by the way they ask and respond to questions. Questions should never hinder learning or deter children from interest, but they should only further the learning process.

Questions Are More Important Than Answers!


  1. This is an awesome Blog Post. I agree with you a lot. Also, you made some really good points about the open ended questions. You are right about appreciating the questioning process, I remember growing up I hated when people asked questions. I love when people ask questions now, because it helps me better understand if I am a little confused about the topic.

  2. Great job! I really like the quote at the end of your post.