Helping students ask questions is a valuable skill teachers can use to create an interactive and engaging classroom. It’s perfect for breaking up periods of direct instruction and a great way to find out what students understand, their misconceptions, and where they need more help.
If you think getting answers from students is challenging, just try getting questions from them!
So, here we go with 5 quick tips you can implement in your classroom right away.
Sometimes we forget to ask. It’s easy for secondary teachers to just keep talking and explaining. And, when do remember to ask, we resort to the basic, “Does anyone have a question?” Try these instead:
I need questions.
Raise your hand to ask a question.
Ask me about __.
If you’d like another example or clarification on anything, let me know now.
I’m ready for questions.
2: CONDUCT A BRAINSTORMING SESSION
If you LOVE brainstorming with your students! This is the time, you should be looking for questions. Other than that, regular brainstorming rules apply:
Write EVERY question on the board or use a document camera to project them.
No comments or answers until the brainstorming session is over.
Then, answer them. All of them. Here’s a list of ways to simplify this:
Group similar questions together and answer them at once. Mark them out or check them off as you go.
Ask students to select ones they would like to have answered.
If time is limited, take a picture or write down the ones that don’t get answered. Either answer them tomorrow, assign them for homework, or have small groups work on them in the next class.
3: TAKE QUESTIONS FROM GROUPS
Every classroom is different and you may have a group of students that is REALLY reluctant to speak out. If so, let the students collaborate with their peers to form questions.
You can try this in a Think-Pair-Share kind of way. Ask each student to jot down a question on their own and then share with another student. The pair can then decide which question to ask. Or, make the group bigger by putting two pairs together and let them select one really good question to ask.
4: TAKE WRITTEN QUESTIONS
For this strategy, Post-It Notes or extra scraps of paper are your friend. Try these strategies to encourage written questions:
Exit Pass: Write a question on this sticky note about the most confusing part of today’s lesson. Stick it on the board on your way out of class. (Answer the questions in the next class.)
Write one question about __ on this slip of paper. (Then, mix up the slips and have students draw one. Let them answer if they want or they can pass it on to you or another student.)
On this scratch paper, I want you to complete these statements: “Today, I learned . Now, I wonder ?”
5: PROVIDE QUESTION STEMS
Sometimes, students simply do not want to speak out in class. But, sometimes, they’re just not sure what to ask. Question stems can help and they can be used for oral or written questions. Write these on the board or hang them on the wall:
How are _ & _ related (alike, different)?
Can you give another example of __?
What causes __?
How do we know __?
If you find this piece helpful, please, share.