Asking Thoughtful Questions

The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer.
Alice Wellington Rollins

Big Ideas

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When thinking about questioning for learning, one will typically think of the Greek Philosopher Socrates who would ask his students deep, thought provoking questions in order to get them to draw conclusions. Recent studies suggest that questioning is still a mainstay in modern classrooms consuming between 35% to 50% of total instructional time. As educators, we must reflect on the purpose, quality, alignment, depth, complexity, and volume of the questions we ask our students in order to ensure that we are asking questions with a purpose.

In this section we will examine:
  • Depth and Complexity
  • Questioning Techniques
  • Classroom Discussions

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Depth and Complexity

Overview

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The word "rigor" is an important concept in the lexicon of teaching. The interpretation of rigor is based on the personal experience of the person you ask. In order to gain a better understanding on what rigor looks, sounds, and feels like; one must investigate the commonalities of different approaches and how rigor is increased over time and space.

In this area, we will explore:

  • Cognitive Domain
  • Cognitive Dimension
  • Knowledge Dimension
  • Depth of Knowledge (DOK)


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Depth of Knowledge

Depth of Knowledge

Video

DOK Level 1 (Recall)

DOK Level 2 (Skills/Concepts)

DOK Level 3 (Strategic Reasoning)

DOK Level 4 (Extended Thinking)

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Questioning Techniques

Overview

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Asking questions in a classroom is more complex than just firing off one content question after another. There has to be a purpose to ask a question and then a decision made based on the answer received. Socrates is often invoked, as we did earlier at the top of this page, when discussing questioning. However, when reading the interpreted works of the great philosopher, one realizes that Socrates reveled in the realm of what modern educators refer to as "HOTS". In classrooms today, research suggests that 60% of questions are at the lower cognitive levels, 20% at the higher end of the spectrum, and 20% are procedural in nature. Another aspect that must be considered in the 21st Century classroom is building the capacity in our students to ask good questions.

In this section, we will examine:

  • Levels of Questioning
  • Questioning in G.R.R.
  • Getting Students to Ask Good Questions
  • Costa's 3 Levels of Questioning
  • Essential vs. Guiding Questions
  • Wait Time
  • Questioning Strategies

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Downloads

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Video

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Discussing

Overview

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Educator Paulo Freire (1968) explained that one of the most important roles for providing an education to our children is to develop their abilities to question and critically interpret everything they learn. Friere felt that knowledge is not a tangible commodity that is transferred from teacher to student. Instead, students must construct knowledge from what they currently know. More importantly, educators have to take the time to understand how students see the world in order to unravel how students learn; thereby, teachers build student capacity to relate personal experiences to ideas. Finally, teaching to Friere is a democratic process in which students are not taught to be dependent on an authority to acquire knowledge. A teacher must be willing and open to learn from the learner in order to construct knowledge that is meaningful to the student. In other words, teachers must become learners and the learners, teachers. Dialect is the means to such a process.

In this section, we will examine how to conduct discussions within the classroom including:
  • How to frame focusing questions
  • How to promote equitable participation
  • Scaffolding techniques to sustain and deepen thinking.

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Video

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