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Good Practice and Top Tips for Questioning from Learning Triads Research, Autumn 2018

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Thoughts on Planning our Questioning

Summer 2018

 

Almost any teacher, if asked for an area of practice they would like to develop, would say that they find really effective whole class questioning a continuing challenge. At Five Islands, we know our individual students extremely well, and take every opportunity to have one to one discussions with them, where we can use individual questioning that is targeted for their specific strengths and needs. However, whole class questioning provides a range of different and very useful functions, as explored in this NSEAD Paper: http://www.nsead.org/downloads/Effective_Questioning&Talk.pdf

 

  • maintain the flow of the learning within the lesson;
  • engage students with the learning;
  • assess what has been learned, and check that what has been learnt is understood and applied;
  • to initiate individual and collaborative thinking in response to new information;
  • provide an opportunity for pupils to share their opinions/views, seeking responses from their peers;
  • encourage creative thought and imaginative or innovative thinking;
  • foster speculation, hypothesis and idea/opinion forming;
  • challenge the level of thinking and possibly mark a change to a higher order of thinking;
  • model higher order thinking using examples and building on the responses of students.

 

We all agree that questioning is useful, but it is also problematic. How do we ensure that our questions both check on learning and understanding and encourage innovative thinking? How do we make sure we do not always go to the same students, who will give useful, clear answers? How do we stretch our students’ thinking with open questions? How do we ensure that half the class is not snoozing through their classmates’ discussion? How do we challenge ourselves never to accept wrong answers because we are afraid of dampening a student’s enthusiasm?

 

One key answer is to plan our questions.

 

Planning questions may take a number of forms, some needing more preparation, others less. Here are a few tried and tested methods we can use, as explored in our Personalisation Staff Training recently:

 

  • Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce: Pose the question, then Pause for thinking or paired discussion time, Pounce (gently) on a student for an initial answer; Bounce it on to another student to develop or challenge – and on around the classroom…
  • Accept, Challenge, Extend: Each student must listen to the first answer, and choose whether to Accept it (preparing a justification for why it is right), Challenge it (raise a fist, ready to put the other side of the argument), or Extend it (raise an open hand). Year 8 love this one!
  • Note down the key questions we want to ask on our planning: deciding which question stems will elicit the higher order responses, and focus on these. Blooms / SOLO Taxonomy question stems can be useful for this.
  • Plan specific Questioning for Engagement activities to create formal opportunities for discussion and deeper questioning which involve all students.

 

 

We are planning to set up new Learning Triads this summer, to enhance our collaborative professional development, and our first focus will be on questioning. Which new methods might you try? Which of your favourite methods will you model and share for others?

 

Please do explore these ideas in more depth in our shared Teaching and Learning Folder on the school’s Google Drive. We look forward to learning deeper questioning techniques from each other over the next few weeks this term!

 

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