What do We Need to Know About Asking Questions to be an Effective Teacher?
How to ask questions in the classroom seemed like a straight forward question to me until I began doing some research. Ben Johnson brought up some points in his article "The Right Way to Ask a Question" that really made me think about what it means to question a student. Johnson discussed the fact that students become disengaged with the teacher after they ask a question and call on a particular student. When a student knows a right answer is given, they will possibly check out instead of remaining in engaged about the right answer that is being given. To correct this, Johnson suggested using a random selection process that would keep the students interested in the question being asked. If they know they will still have a chance to be called upon to answer, they are more willing to participate in the answering process. The concept of asking a question and only calling on a student with a hand raised seemed like a normal part of the questioning process, but understanding the need to keep students engaged has me looking at the process in a different light.
As I continued to read, I found Maryellen Weimer's blogpost entitled "Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom" extremely thought provoking. Weimer encourages teachers to look at asking questions as a way to teach students how to ask effective questions of their own. This is a new idea to me. I was one of the people who thought asking questions was to just to see if a student understands the content. She encourages teachers to plan for the questions they will use in class giving them the chance to refine and make clear what they want to ask. She also says to"play with the questions", giving all the students a chance to answer by writing down their answer and discussing the question at a later time. This was an idea I thought would be a great way to show students that effective questions take time to think about and answer. Finally, Weimer made a great point by saying that preserving good questions that students ask show that a teacher values the questions asked.
As a teacher, asking questions has way more importance than just gaining insight to what a student understands. It goes beyond that by encouraging students to use higher thinking and to teaching them how to use effective questioning in their everyday life. As teachers, if we use some of these suggestions in our questioning processes, we will be giving our students a step up as they learn.