- Check for understanding
- Deepen understanding
Quality questioning can also challenge students and foster grit, as often it is only when it gets difficult that the really good questions come.
Chris emphasised the importance of creating the right climate for questioning before we begin, i.e. one that allows for:
- Sharing with and learning from each other
- Building on each other’s ideas
- No hands up
- Only one person talks at a time
- Respectful challenges to ideas
- No donkeys!
In order to do this he encourages his students to think about what such an environment might:
- Look like
- Sound like
- Feel like
Chris often uses a Questioning climate template to structure this with students the first few times like the one shown below:
Chris then led us through the popular questioning technique: Pose, Pause, Pounce, Probe and Bounce
- Ask a ‘big’ question
- Ensure that you ask the students to remain reflective
- Allow think time
- In pairs
A framework can also be useful here, for example this simple Think Pair Share template below
- No hands up.
- You ‘cold call’ names – you choose (using a Think Pair Share framework gives students a safety net)
- Random selection ensures everyone remains on task
- You can differentiate your questions
- Plan who you will ask beforehand
- Based on the student’s answer you can begin to probe their response.
- Decipher – especially if no response appears forthcoming.
- At this stage, you can instigate various strategies for peers to support the student
A question matrix, as popularised by John Sayers here is a good way to frame questions and probe deeper.
Our HOD Science Julie Ryder also tweaked this grid a while back to utilise Bloom’s verbs and the “5W/how” question structure.
More recently I’ve tweaked Julie’s questioning grid for SOLO.
All 3 matrices are available to download here: Question matrices
In his recent post: “Responsive Questioning” Andy Tharby also highlights the importance of the probing stage, in that the more we probe, the more we push the discussion forward, the less we leave unchallenged, the better our students learn. He also challenges the notion of having too many hard and fast rules about questioning – including “no hands up”.
- Bounce it to another person (or group) irrespective if the answer is correct or not
“John, do you agree or disagree with that answer? Why?”
In another recent post “Disciplined Discussion – as easy as ABC” Alex Quigley outlines the ABC feedback strategy, which makes for an excellent accompaniment to this to support higher order differentiated questioning. The strategy works by enhancing the quality of secondary responses, whereby students:
- A gree
- B uild upon
- C hallenge
the initial response to a question.
- Plan for deeper questioning – including who
- Wait for an answer – use think/pair/share
- Ask probing and open questions as well as closed questions
- Know the answer to your questions / how to move learning forward
Why should you focus on developing your questioning?
- It aids differentiation in the classroom
- Employing a range of questioning techniques can enhance the learning experience
- It creates a culture of participation and enquiry
- It encourages students to take risks with their learning in a safe environment
- It promotes deeper thinking