Asking the right questions is an art that
is cultivated over a period of time by all educators. As
our students are learning, we are also learning to ask questions
that lead to inquiry and understanding of the critical content.
Our students are led to Higher Order Thinking Skills
as we develop strategies in questioning. These questions
may be used for teaching or leading as well as for assessing
or evaluating. Questions and responses may be oral, written
or demonstrated by projects or other authentic assessments.
The goal is for the questions and the responses to lead to
reflectiveness on the parts of the learners as well as the
Over the period of a school year students
are exposed to many learning units in each of the content
areas. Effective questioning leads a student to have a complete
and detailed understanding of what is important to the topic.
The student can then perform the skills and processes fluently,
independently and with little error.
Here are some basics on effective
Prepare possible questions ahead of
time and ask additional and different questions for each
presentation and for clarification
Allow for thoughtful answers with WAIT
Record your own reflections as a reminder
for future lessons
The California Mathematics Council
recommends the following:
Can the students understand, define,
formulate, or explain the problem or task?
What is the problem?
What can you tell about it? How do you interpret that? Please explain
in your own words.
Is there something that can be eliminated?
Is there something missing?
What assumptions can be made?
Approaches and Strategies:
Do students have an organized approach
to the problem?
Do they use manipulatives, diagrams, graphs, calculators, and computers
Where do you find the needed information?
What have you tried?
What steps did you take?
What did not work?
How do you record the information?
Did you have a system?
Would it help to draw a diagram or make a sketch?
How would you research the problem, topic, etc.?
Do students see the relationship and
recognize the central idea?
Do they relate the problem to similar problems previously done?
What is the relationship of this to another example?
What is the same?
What is different? Is there a problem?
Can you break in into its parts? Can you write another related problem?
Can students vary the approach if one
is not working?
Do they persist?
Do they try something else?
Have you tried making a guess?
What else have you tried?
Is there an easier way?
Is there another way to explain that?
Is there evidence of thinking ahead,
Can you predict what will happen?
What is your estimation?
What do you think comes next?
What else would you like to know?
Equality and Equity:
Do all students participate to the same
Is the quality of participation the same?
Do you work together?
Have you discussed this with your group?
Where would you go for help?
Does everyone get a fair chance to speak in the group?
Do students reach a result?
Do they consider other possibilities?
Is that the only possible answer?
How would you check the steps you have taken to reach the answer?
Is there anything you overlooked?
How do you know you are done?
Do students evaluate their own processing,
actions, and progress?
What do you need to do next?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
What have you accomplished?
What kind of problems is still difficult for you?
This questioning technique is applicable
not only to mathematics but to other content areas especially
Science, Literature/Language Arts/Literacy and Social Studies.
As teachers pose effective questions to the students, the
students are led to become independent learners and ask similar
questions of themselves when they encounter a challenge.
It is essential that the reflective process apply to students
I hope you’ve found these basics
helpful. If you have a question or suggestion, don’t
hesitate to e-mail me.
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