Friday, September 27, 2013

Blog Post #6?


Ben Johnson suggests that we pose an effective, meaningful question, pause three seconds, then call on a student to answer in his article The Right Way to Ask Questions in the Classroom. This eliminates the attention-void which follows most questions that teachers ask either to specific students or an uninterested class. According to Mr. Johnson, students are aware of their academic expectations among their peers as early as fourth grade. This means that whenever a question is asked during class the kids labeled as "smart" will be eager to answer while the remainder of the class avoids eye contact with the teacher and hopes they are not called upon. Mr. Johnson suggests that with a proper lesson plan, students will inadvertently become more mentally involved in questioning if you follow the formula: question + 3 second pause + call on a student = happy teacher, interested students .

Asking the class a question is really like asking a witness a question in court. Only ask one question at a time. Avoid asking open-ended questions--but if you must, immediately follow with a close ended question. Allow time for several dramatic (and often exhausting, student-wise) pauses. Ask specific questions. I would add (and this wouldn't apply in the courtroom of course): don't save all of your questions for one time. Nothing was ever more boring to me as a student than a teacher dividing the class time into three equally painful segments: introduction, lecture, "do you understand? any further questions?". The Teaching Center of the Washington University in St. Louis provides an excellent checklist for teachers concerning questions-asking. This resource covers general strategies, responses to student answers, and (of course) Bloom's taxonomy.

Joanne Chesley made a great example in her video Asking Better Questions in the Classroom. She posed: "Do you believe the course of the Civil Rights Movement would have changed if Rosa Parks had given up her seat to a white man?"(which can easily be answered with YES or NO)against: "What do you believe the consequences would have been to the Civil Rights Movement if Mrs. Parks had given up her seat?"

From personal experience, I found the most effective question to be: "Do you think so?". I had an English Literature teacher my senior year that asked us this frequently. It required us to reexamine our interpretation of the text and produce new justifications for our statement. The "Why" was implied by her resignation to state: "Yes, that's right" or "No, that's wrong". This also promoted discussion among the class. If individuals disagreed, they were given the opportunity to discuss their reasons for thinking one way or the other. This provided an excellent classroom environment inspired by discussion and a deeper understanding of the text.
Question Mark

1 comment:

  1. "The 'Why' was implied by her resignation to state: 'Yes, that's right' or 'No, that's wrong'." Resignation? I do not understand this word in this context. What did you mean to say?

    Thoughtful. Interesting.