Sunday, February 9, 2014

Blog Post Assignment #4

What do we need to know about asking questions to be an effective teacher?

I believe that as a teacher it is very important to not only know how to answer questions, but also to know how to ask them. As Ben Johnson points out in The Right Way to Ask Questions in the Classroom, teachers constantly ask useless questions. He says, "Ostensibly, after we have taught a principle or concept, we could ask, Does everybody understand? Even though we all realize that students not answering -- or even answering in the affirmative -- may not really understand, we still ask it. Are we aware of how many times we ask this useless question during a day of teaching?" His point here is that you cannot simply ask your students if they understood what you've taught them. Many times they will just say yes and not really understand what has been taught. He also points out that even when asking the class specific questions, only the motivated students will participate in answering. The other majority of the students are perfectly fine with letting those students answer all the questions. The solution he has delivered for getting all the students to answer the question is to ask specific students a question in random fashion. When the whole class is anticipating their name to be called after the question is asked, they vast majority of them will be trying to solve the question.
Question Party
The article Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom gives teachers three simple tips for asking their class better questions. I found this to be the most helpful article I read about question-asking in the classroom. It states that the one way for a teacher to ask effective questions is to prepare the questions beforehand rather than making them up on the spot. Also, preserving good questions is suggested. If you ask your class a question that stimulates a lot of discussion and thinking by the students, then this should be a question you ask again to another class in the future.
There are two main points in Asking Questions to Improve Learning that I felt were very important. The first point was to make your questions have answers that are more than just yes or no. Students need to learn more than just if something is right or wrong. Asking questions that warrant answers with explanations is a sure way to stimulate your students thinking. The second topic I most agreed with was that you have to let your students know that you are interested in their answer. Whether they answer right or wrong you should expand on their answer and give them even more information on the question.

Following these guidelines should lead to interesting, substantial questions in the classroom.

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