Kettle Moraine School District, Wisconsin
Given a real life context, students were given the question ‘Everything in this room is frozen –agree or disagree?’ The teacher asked talk partners to talk then form a group. Their discussion brought out misconceptions. Children corrected each other but had to explain their reasons with evidence and vocabulary. The discussion was great and also pulled in prior knowledge. The teacher was able to see who had misconceptions and help them straight away. Students developed their arguments and questioned each other until there was a solid definition of frozen.
Another statement ‘This is a fact family – agree or disagree?’ led to students explaining their thinking and helped bring out misconceptions which could then be addressed. It also revealed which children had deeper understanding.
Socratic circles had been a focus for one teacher to create solid questions, which had improved.
Questions as bell ringer activities had enabled students to engage in the concept and collaborate with their talk partner.
Question dice had also been used which had engaged children and made a change from the question always coming from the teacher.
Kentucky (maths only)
Students had been given a statement which they had to agree or disagree with and choose a side. This cleared up many misconceptions.
A card sort with equivalent expressions had resulted in more thinking as they had to come up with their own ways to sort.
A crime scene had been used with clues hidden in envelopes around the room. Students were very excited and the best questions came from students who are not typically very involved.
Students were given problems with some correct and some incorrect. Students were involved in the lesson and taught themselves.
By letting students have control of the classroom my work has become easier and the learning increased as seen in after lesson quizzes.
Asking where had another student gone wrong enabled students to learn from their mistakes together.
Beginning a unit with a real life problem led to students generating their own questions.
Card sorts to put in order had enabled students to gain better understanding.
One teacher had presented students with a graph and asked them what they knew about it, which gave good prior knowledge information.
Teachers felt that all intentional questions had led to better student questions, had allowed students to use more writing and reading in math, had allowed for better and deeper discussion and students were better with reading comprehension in math.
1 question on scenario is placed in the centre of chart paper (4 or 8 groups)
Each group has a specific amount of time per question and they rotate answering each question.
Each group has to either agree or disagree with the previous answers from the other group.
Questions are very focused and intentional. The impact has led to many math debates, student engagement and total student-led activity.
Julie Jackson, East Carter High School, Kentucky
Kentucky (all subjects)
One teacher had used the ‘right or wrong’ question for subtracting fractions, which had allowed the teacher to assess the explanation of processes.
Another teacher had used science probes to establish prior knowledge.
Math concept cartoons had been successfully used.
The ‘range of answers’ had enables many misconceptions to be identified.
‘I true/2 false/ statements about the death penalty had enabled students to discuss that there was no right or wrong answer.
The ‘odd one out’ question used with ambiguous items had again helped students debate realising there was no definitive answer.
Grouping of like objects ‘how are these the same?’ had enabled clarity moments and students could see each other’s ideas.
‘What went wrong?’ was used with talk partners and students saw how easy it is to find out where a problem is when talking together.
‘Starting from the end’ used with maths was enjoyed by students. They realised they could create any number of possible questions.
‘Tell me more’ was often used to help students to elaborate on their answers. At frist they found tis uncomfortable, but with practise and encouragement they are becoming more vocal in their learning. The quality and qualtity of learning has increased and pupil enjoyment.
Students have also been encouraged to ‘phone a friend’ if they need help. This has helped them see they don’t have to be alone all the time and the friend’s response needs to be understood to be repeated properly.
Generally teachers have found that asking more open questions had revealed more misconceptions which could then be dealt with by mini-lessons.
The ‘range of answers’ was used for character analysis of Jane Eyre. Three synonyms were given to describe a character. Students chose the best one and gave reasons. Students felt more focused: ‘I didn’t have 100 ideas flying in my head’, and were paying more attention to word choice and connotations. It pushed them into deeper analysis. Other teachers had also used this template for English lessons, resulting in studemts using externa;l sources to define aspects of story principles. The class discussion about a reading text promtoted deeper thinking.
A math teacher used ‘what went wrong?’ for solving cubic equations. They became more comfortable with what they were looking at and used their own suggestions to improve their submissions. The conversation was high quality as the class was debating back and forth.
Another teacher gave students a ‘right and wrong’ question, given four similar terms with answers. Their vocabulary use was impressive and students gave more than sufficient evidence as to why each problem was right or wrong.
One teacher said that most of them used these questioning techniques but now they have names.
The ‘odd one out’ had been used for math. Students were given properties for solving equations and asked to choose the odd one out. The thought processes were interesting, in that their answers and the teacher’s were different. She gave them her reasons and asked them to agree or disagree. This really provoked a lot of good discussion.
The ‘odd one out’ was also used with compounds for chemical bonding. Students had a clearer understanding of the periodic table as a result. They are having to stop and reason rather than blurting out an answer and were initially frustrated by this.
One teacher had used card sorts for osmosis and diffusion which had helped students to make concrete connections for both active and passive cell transport.
‘Who’s right’ was used in a question about parallel lines and measurement. This clarified students’ definition of parallel lines and introduced how to determine if lines are parallel using measurement.
Concept cartoons demonstrated whether students could scale factor accurately.
I’ve tried in the last couple of months to help students visualise and make concrete connections to facts and figures in the topic of energy. One example I used was to pass around a peanut (which we had previously calculated for calories contained) and a Ziploc bag that was filled with one pound of water to stand in as a pound of body fat. Students were asked to contrast/compare how these two items are similar or different. Class discussion led to the idea that both are metabolised by the body to convert stored energy into useable energy.
Chris Lacy, Morgan County High School
Asking ‘Tell me what you have done..so far?’ has encouraged students to focus more on the process than the final answer, explaining what steps had been taken and how they related to the final answer. ‘Why? What’s the rule?’ was also useful, leading to one student referencing a rule that had been learnt the week before about comma placement.
In my accelerated English 1 class the students read ‘The most dangerous game’ which is an adventure/survival story. I asked students the question, ‘Is Rainsford successful because he’s resourceful or clever?’ They used dictionaries to define the terms then did some focused reading to find evidence of both.
The discussion and critical thinking followed as they differentiated between the two traits then they wrote a rationale for their choice. The question was extended by asking ‘Was he able to act so quickly because he was able to find resources and tools or because he could think on his feet fast?’
Teachers who had started using the question ‘What do you mean by?’ when walking around the classroom questioning students, found that students were surprised at being asked, demonstrating their complacency about knowing the right answer. The students need prompting to see that they can explain.
Including these questions has made students more focused, as they know the questions will be coming. They are now explaining how to go about a problem without prompting.
Effective questioning techniques have led to us becoming more patient questioners. Students are very focused on what the answer is, and not necessarily how the answer came about. Students need to focus more on the process.. These questioning techniques make me feel like an archaeologist, patiently digging away for the artefact.
Kettle Moraine School District, Wisconsin, USA
Patricia Deklotz | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim Zeidler | email@example.com
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK
Mel Shackleton | firstname.lastname@example.org