Teaching strategy: Questioning

Overview:

Teachers ask a lot of question in the course of a lesson. But it is important that these questions are purposeful and targeted to the learning and that ample time is given for students to think and respond.

Here are three articles that explain what effective question is and how to tailor questions for different purposes:

  1. West Lothian Council: Effective questioning
  2. Using Questioning to Stimulate Mathematical Thinking
  3. AAMT: Effective questioning

There are many techniques for gathering responses to questions. Choosing students that put up their hands tends to favour the loudest most confidents students. Using mini-whiteboards is one way of seeing the whole classes responses. Picking a random popstick, with the student’s name, means that all students have to prepared to answer a question.

The teacher:

  • Teaches students how to listen and respond politely to other’s contributions – models this behaviour in their own responses
  • Uses targeted questions to focus on the learning objectives for the lesson
  • Uses questioning to extend the students’ thinking and to check for misconceptions and gaps in knowledge
  • Allows adequate time for students to respond
  • Varies how the students respond to questions
  • Encourages respectful dialogue and collaboration
  • Provides feedback to students immediately
  • Plans and structures questions before the lesson
  • Keeps the lesson focused on the learning intention
  • Does not ask too many questions, dominate the conversation

The students:

  • Feel safe to ask and respond to questions
  • Feel safe to ask a question to clarify understanding or ask if do not understand
  • Can respectfully respond to other students’ question

Example of the strategy in action:

In this Illustration of Practice video, the teacher uses questioning techniques to draw out students understanding.

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