What do we need to know about asking questions to be an effective teacher?
The Right Way to ask Questions in the Classroom
In Ben Johnson's blog, The Right Way to Ask Questions in the Classroom, he wonders whether or not students fully understanding the concepts that we as teachers are teaching them. He brings up the point, that sure all of us teachers ask the question, "Does everyone understand?" Most teachers then wait for an answer and if none of their students speak up then they will move on to the next topic. But Johnson asks what if the students don't speak up because they don't know if they don't understand something if the don't understand what they don't understand. So how can we as educators ask such a broad question and expect to get an answer back if we don't know that the students don't understand enough to be able to ask a question about something that they don't understand? So he goes on to talk about a study that he did. In this study he followed a first grader, a third grader, a fifth grader, a sixth grader, and a ninth grader. He followed them to all the classes and came up with the same result for every one of them. He discovered that some of the students went a whole day sometimes even weeks, or months without answering a single question. So I ask, how can we as teachers expect our students to answer these questions when in fact they might know or understand what we are trying to teach them. So at the end of his blog he proposes a simple solution to this problem. He starts explain a method that has been developed by Mary Bud Rowe, and her method is for teachers to ask a simple question, pause for at least three seconds, and then call on a student. That way the whole class is thinking of the answer to that question. Then after that student has been called on the rest of the class can breath a sigh of relief for the moment until you pose another question and repeat the cycle.
Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom
In Maryellen Weiner's blog, Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom, she proposes three ways to ask better questions in the classroom. The first way is to prepare questions before teaching the subject matter to your students. In this way you can make your questions be more clear and precise. Have you ever had a teacher ask a random question in the middle of lecture and you weren't quite sure what they were trying to ask? I know I have, and then you spend the rest of the class trying to figure out what they really wanted to know, meanwhile the teacher has moved on from the question and the rest of the lecture. Before you know the lesson is over and you missed vital information because you were thinking about that one question. Well in this first step if we as educators take the time to prepare our questions then we will not leave our students doing the same thing. The next step is to play with the question. This could be putting it in a powerpoint, or writing on the board and leaving it unanswered until the end of class. Or you could ask a question and then put your students in groups and allow them to come up with different possible solutions before deciding on what is the right solution. The third and final step is to preserve good questions. In this step you can take the questions that your students ask and save them later. So say you have a student ask a good question in your first class and then you can save that question for your next class and say something like, one of my students in the fist class asked me about this, and propose the idea to the second class.
We need to know all there is in knowing how to ask the right question. Asking the right question can promote collaborative learning and innovative thinking. So to do this we need to better prepare ourselves before hand of the questions we want to ask so that when we are teaching we don't just randomize our questions in the middle of the lecture. Radom questions lead to random answers which just confuse everyone in the process.