Imagine a classroom full of students raising their hands wanting to ask questions so they can know more about the topic that is being covered. It sounds like a good dream, doesn’t it? But it can actually happen in your own classroom if you take the steps to educate the kids on the technique of questioning to further their knowledge. Just like everything else in life, this skill is something that needs to be learned before you can use it.
There Is No Such Thing As a Bad Question
How many times did we hear this as kids? Either our parents or our teachers would tell us this in an effort to make us more inquisitive. However, as soon as we asked a question they didn’t like, they would often yell at us and totally contradict this statement. Tell your own students that if they have a question, don’t be afraid to ask it. If they are worried about it not being a good question or being laughed at, have them write it down and submit it anonymously. You can answer the question in front of the class first thing when you get the opportunity.
Present Lessons in Interesting Ways
If a lesson is boring the kids to death, they won’t want to ask questions as it will only prolong the agony. You have probably had to suffer through these types of meetings, so you know exactly how your students feel when you don’t take the time to present the lesson in as interesting a way as possible. Include images, videos, presentations, and literature into all your lessons so you can connect with all types of learners.
The Socratic Discussion
The Socratic Discussion is quite a bit different than the normal teacher-led discussion that you might be using the majority of the time in your classroom. The Socratic Discussion is all about having the discussion being led by the students. It is completely student-centered with the teacher supervising and perhaps now and then guiding them to keep them on track. It is a group learning strategy that enables the students to ask questions of one another in an attempt to extend their own critical thinking skills. Sometimes the toughest thing for a teacher to do is to step back and become an observer instead of the lead participant. However, in an effort to increase your students’ questioning skills, this is what may be needed.
Ask the Students Questions For Things You Want Them to Learn
Sometimes no matter how much you lead the students, you can never get them to ask the questions that you want them to. But don’t give up, call it a day, and sit behind your desk for the rest of the class as your kids do silent reading. Instead, ask them the questions that you wanted them to ask you.
There is a type of questioning called “thunks” that is interesting to use with your students. You start off by asking them simple questions about the topic, but then move it into more of a philosophical question. For example, “Boo Radley saving Jem and Scout was a great thing, right?” Then continue on with, “It did result in Ewell’s murder though. Was Atticus and Sheriff Tate correct in covering up the murder and saying Ewell fell on his own knife?”
Monitor the Amount of Questions
Make it a goal for your students that they need to ask questions during class rather than you asking them more questions. You can even do a tally on the board or assign a question monitor to keep track. The questions have to be on the topic you are covering and not just about how the day is going or what’s for lunch. This will lead them to want to ask more questions, and in doing so, learn more about the topic.