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Questioning Module

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Jay Corrigan

on 2 February 2015

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Transcript of Questioning Module

So if you're thinking, I ask questions all the time, you're probably right
In fact, anywhere from 35% to 50% of a teacher's instructional time is devoted to asking students questions
Using questions to encourage debate and disagreement in the classroom
Asking the Right Questions
400 Questions in a day
70,000 Questions in a year
two to three million over the course of a career
What kinds of questions are teachers asking?
60% of the questions asked in the average classroom are recitation questions, meaning they have a yes/no or factual answer
20% are the procedural, is-your-name-on-that kind of questions
And the remaining 20% are higher order questions (although many of these questions are non-academic in nature, such as Why did you just throw your pencil or What did you think about the game last night?)
And what does that questioning look and sound like?
Most questions are answered in about one second
Questions are answered most often by a small group of students who usually sit within the teacher's line of vision
Questions are posed almost exclusively by the teacher
Traditional Questioning techniques are appropriate for a curriculum whose focus is factual information and an assessment whose primary goal is to verify that students can recall those facts
and the PARCC is not that kind of assessment
The Common Core is not that kind of curriculum
They comprehend as well as critique

Students are engaged, open-minded, and discerning readers and listeners. The work to understand what an author is saying but they also question the author's assumptions, the veracity of the author's claims, and the soundness of the author's reasoning.
Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others

Mathematically proficient students can reason inductively about data, making plausible arguments that take into account the context from which the data arose. They are able to compare the effectiveness of two plausible arguments, distinguish correct logic from that which is flawed, and if there is a flaw, explain what it is
So how can we improve our questioning practices here in Frederick County?
Teachers are already asking lower cognitive questions. What kind of higher cognitive question makes the most sense in light of the Common Core?
Common Core language
Comprehend as well as critique
Value evidence
Construct effective arguments
Constructively evaluate the use of evidence
Question a speaker's assumptions and reasoning
Critically evaluate other points of view
Explore the truth of conjectures
Build a logical progression of statements
Justify Conclusions
Clarify or improve arguments
Determine the domain to which an argument applies
So a category of higher cognitive question that will allow teachers to get a lot of instructional bang for their questioning buck is questions that call for students to create, analyze, and/or critique arguments
The great white shark is a murderer. It has taken the lives of men, women and children. As a murderer, it should be hunted down and jailed or destroyed to make our beaches safe to enjoy.

From Arguments by Michael O. Baker, Critical Thinking Books and Software
The great white shark is no different from any other fish in the sea; it eats to survive. The shark is like an eagle who combs the sea in search of food. We do not treat eagles like criminals just because they kill to survive. Therefore, we should not treat the great white shark like a criminal because it kills to survive.

From Arguments by Michael O. Baker, Critical Thinking Books and Software
What do all of these Common Core phrases have in common?
They all call for students to be fluent with arguments and evidence
A good critical thinking question is open, one that has more than one reasonable answer
A good critical thinking question is one that sparks friendly controversies and debate
A good critical thinking question has answers that can be supported using evidence from a text or mathematical or scientific source material such as data, an equation, or an experiment
A good critical thinking question causes students to explore curricular content
So what constitutes a good critical thinking question?
A good critical thinking question calls for students to analyze and evaluate rather than recall information
Let's call these kinds of questions Critical Thinking Questions
Closed Question:
factual recall, yes/no
Open question: Critical Thinking
Teachers Ask Lots of Questions
Using questioning to elicit high level, curriculum-focused thinking
Suggestions for managing this kind of questioning with students
Make sure questions are focused on curriculum and planned ahead of time
Provide wait time, 10 seconds or more for critical thinking questions
Balance responses from volunteering and non-volunteering students
And encourage students to respond to each other. Student questioning will be the focus of Questioning Module Part Two . . . Questioning with a Vengeance!!!
Lower cognitive questions are not necessarily bad questions
And higher cognitive/critical thinking questions are not necessarily good questions
However, research suggests that teachers are asking far too many lower cognitive questions and far too few higher cognitive/critical thinking questions
How can teachers effectively probe student responses?
Ask students to clarify their answer - what do you mean by that?
Ask students to provide evidence that justifies their answer - Can you prove that?
Ask students to critique another argument - Does that argument make sense?
What is your reaction to these research findings?

How accurately do you think this research captures your own questioning practices?

What have you noticed about the kinds of questions your students ask?
Ask students to extend their answer - Would your argument still make sense if this changed?
Ask students to provide other reasonable answers - Could something else make sense?
A student's answer to a question should be a springboard to inquiry and argument
Challenge the student to defend their thinking in the face of critique - Your argument is different than what someone else said. Who is correct?
Do teachers need to abandon the questioning techniques that many have perfected over the course of their careers?
Questioning in the average classroom follows a very predictable pattern:
The teacher asks a question
A student answers the question
The teacher evaluates that answer
Planning for purposeful questioning and probing can help shift the balance from primarily lower cognitive questions to a balance of lower cognitive and higher cognitive/critical thinking questions.
Let's practice!
"Questions" by Steven Hastings, 2003 www.londongt.org/teachertools
"Questioning" by Ian Wilkinson and Eun Son, 2012 www.education.com
"Classroom Questioning for Trainee Teachers" University of Southampton
"Classroom Questioning" by Kathleen Cotton, 1988 Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory
When possible, respond in a non-evaluative, neutral way. That leaves the door open to further discussion and comments from students who may have a different perspective but who won't share if the teacher has already indicated that a previous answer is 'good.'
By asking a better balance of lower cognitive and higher cognitive questions that are focused on curriculum
Questioning that focuses primarily on lower cognitive thinking skills (the kind of questioning found in the average classroom) will not adequately prepare students to do this kind of high level thinking
Questioning that focuses primarily on fact recall (the kind of questioning found in the average classroom) will not adequately prepare students to answer this kind of question
Ask the right questions. The fastest way to change the answers you receive.
Lee J. Colan

The critical question when you are planning critical thinking questions is: what is debatable in this text?
Is the author's comparison fair? Is a shark like a murderer?
Is the author's solution to the problem of shark attacks reasonable?
What does this look like in a classroom?
It is the second most popular teaching strategy in American classrooms
Teachers ask up to two questions every minute
Is This the Right Approach?
Questions are asked within an IRE discourse structure
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