The Key Is Good Questioning

26 Jan

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One key area that kept cropping up when looking at my teaching technique was why students don’t involve themselves in the process more. This idea of contributing more as been on my mind lately.  If I think back to my days at school, I can picture classes with friends and peers with different abilities, backgrounds and views on education.  We had some who enjoyed school.  Indeed we had a great time. We tolerated the learning bit but the school. Yes we loved it.
We had the naturally talented.  We had those who struggled.  We had some who gave their all.  We had some who wasted talent.  We had some who knew it all.  We had some who found school wasn’t for them.  Yes I real melting pot.  A wrong answer could be met with a severe put down from peers.  A great answer could result in ridicule.  The worry of the teacher finding out you have no idea left you feeling pressured, panicked or worried.  In actuality the culture of a classroom might not be that different now.
Who really knows.  But that culture where sharing answers during class questioning is safe is extremely important.  Yes we want students to challenge each other and offer opposing opinions, but we need to ensure that the environment in which questioning occurs allows everyone to contribute without the worry of ridicule or panic.  Setting clear rules, modelling how to share answers, demonstrating good protocol and scaffolding the process allow students the security to be involved.  Celebrating good answers, valuing opinions and rationally challenging ideas takes time to achieve, but setting up such a culture means a deal of hard work.
Challenging students to provide answers and contributing can be quite a task in some instances.  Setting expectations that every answer must be high quality can be even harder. Here again I believe the flipped classroom is an ideal platform.

Here are some things to think about.

  • Set that expectation that every student must speak loud enough so that they can be heard by all.  There is nothing worse when a student mumbles and the majority of the class can’t hear it.
  • Ask that they use well structured sentences and language.  Now this will take time to develop but similar to writing, students should be using specific terminology, sound structure and a range of vocabulary.  Be a stickler for slang words.  It will be tough but it is well worth it.
  • Create relational trust in the learning environment. Build and set foundations early.

What are some of your thoughts?

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