At a recent departmental meeting, the history and geography departments joined forces to discuss and share ideas about questioning. What ensued was a lively discussion about what makes great questioning. Thanks to @davidbrading for summarising the meain points of the discussion for the following article.
Questioning is important because:
- it stimulates the mind.
- it builds a picture.
- develops imagination.
- helps student learning by building step by step journey.
- demonstrates learning and progress in a lesson.
Key elements of great questioning:
- All students can be involved in the lesson.
- Picking students randomly e.g. using names on lolly sticks, with ‘no hands up’
- Does not always have to be led by the teacher, students can drive the learning.
- Leads to enquiry.
- Students should be encouraged to generate their own questions to develop their learning.
- Teacher does not always have to supply the answer, but should facilitate the discovery.
- Creates an atmosphere where any one can say anything, without fear of making a mistake. Safety and a sense that all can join in.
- No ‘gimmies’… If they don’t know the answer, don’t make it easy by spelling out the first few letters of the word e.g. “begins with VOL….’ . Instead ask other students to help, or break the question down.
- Link the questions you ask directly to assessment criteria… ‘why is this a level 5 answer’… @how could you improve to a C grade..?’
- Ask the question, then break out into pairs to discuss – then feedback their ideas.
3 top questioning priorities
- Questions should be prepared beforehand during lesson planning. Clearly this needs to be done with the flexibility to move on and adapt the questions, as the discussion meanders during the lesson. So there should be clear thought given to the key questions that students need to be able to answer (which are directly linked to the learning objectives) at particular parts of the lesson, before the learning can move on – also known as hinge questions.
- Questions should be differentiated and targeted to particular students. So there will be a different challenge element to different key questions e.g. Red- low challenge, Amber- Medium challenge, RED- high challenge questions. (see below).
3. Variety of question strength. Using the following matrix to secure progression and challenge through the use of different questions. Thanks to @JOHNSAYERS for this – http://sayersjohn.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/questioning.html