Thursday, March 13, 2014
Blog Post #5
There is an art to asking questions. Stale questions can produce stale, mechanical answers. But the right questions can stimulate the mind and involve students in the learning process. Yes/no closed ended questions need to be replaced by open ended questions that require students to think and formulate an extensive answer. Joanne Chesley does a good job explaining the difference between open ended and closed ended questions in the two minute video, “Asking Better Questions in the Classroom”.
The Teaching Center has a great article, Asking Questions to Improve Learning, that gives several examples of effective open ended questions like, "Under what conditions is this equation not valid?"
So how do you get started changing the way you ask questions? Andi Stix in the two minute video “Open Ended Questions” explains how to modify existing closed ended questions to open ended questions.
Recently I observed a math lesson where students came to the board one at a time to work problems. Typically this is a time when the rest of the class, sits back, relaxes and lets the one student do all of the work. But the teacher impressed me in the way she asked the rest of the class open ended questions during the board work to involve the whole class in the learning process. Each time the student would come to a stopping point in the problem, the teacher did not say, “yes you are doing it right, keep going.” Instead she would ask the class questions like: “Do you think the student did step 3 correct?”...“How would you work this step differently?”..."How will the new method change the answer?"..."Which solution is correct, or are they both correct?" Because of the outstanding job the teacher did asking questions during the lesson, the class was participating in the board work, reflecting on the students work, comparing it to their own solution, and evaluating whether the student was working it correctly.