By Teachers, For Teachers
In order for students to inquire, it’s important for you to use teaching strategies that enable you to ask the right questions. In fact, many teachers feel that teaching strategies revolving around questioning are the foundation of education (when done effectively, of course). To help your students develop the skills of inquiry, as well as extend their learning, consider asking them the following questions.
As a teacher, it’s important to monitor your students’ understanding of a concept and make sure that no one is falling behind. When you ask a blanket question like “Does everyone understand?” to your whole class, then you will most likely get a blanket response of the students nodding or saying yes, even though a few of the them still don’t understand. That’s why it’s important to go around the classroom as the students are working and ask each student personally. If you think that will take up too much of your time, then you can set up a system where students can show you that they still have questions by flipping a card to red at the end of their desk, meaning they still need help.
As you go around the classroom, extend your questioning to include questions like “How do you think you are going to tackle this question?” and “Would you like me to go over something again?” For some students, asking for help is embarrassing, so by asking these types of questions, you are giving the student the opportunity to ask for help without really coming out and asking for help.
Another great question to ask is “Why is this important?” Oftentimes, young students don’t grasp why they have to learn something. Many children will often question what the purpose is for learning algebra or fractions. Make them understand why they are learning each concept, and why it’s important for them to learn it. By doing this, you are giving them the tools to develop a healthy attitude about learning. When you ask students the question “Why is this important?”, you are giving them the chance to explain to themselves why they need to learn something, which will help reinforce the concept in their mind.
This question gives students the opportunity to have a voice and an opinion about what they are learning. When you get student feedback, you can transform your lessons into lessons that students are interested in and engaged in. By simply asking the question “What do you think about this lesson?” or “What do you think was the best part or the worst part?” you are learning what students liked and disliked, and can apply all of the things that they loved into your next lesson.
This simple-yet-powerful question can help lead students to succeed. Your students may have many questions, so this one simple question can help you figure what the student needs in order to understand the concept and/or complete their task.
Questions help to lead students to inquire more questions about what they are learning. By simply asking students what other questions they still have, you are opening up the offer for them to ask even more questions about the concept, idea, information or evidence that they are learning. A great way for students to feel comfortable asking questions is to use the Think-Pair-Share cooperative learning strategy. After you ask students a question, give them a moment to think about the question, then allow them to share their thoughts with a partner. If they have more questions, then they can discuss that with their partner as well.
Ask your students these questions daily. Be sure to give your students time to think about the question, then to respond to it. Be aware of the tone of your voice when you are asking the questions. Your goal is to use a higher pitch in your voice so students will understand you are inquiring and asking a question versus a statement.
Do you ask your students any of these questions? If not, then what teaching strategies work well in your classroom? Please share with us in the comment section below.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.