Questioning enables teachers to explore students’ thinking while they are learning, so that we can respond to their needs in a timely way. Effective questioning makes students’ thinking visible so that we can find out what they know, and what they still need to learn.
The following link will take you to a series of great videos focusing on effective questioning.
There is a viewing guide that helps facilitate your learning about learning goals and success criteria shown in the videos and provides support for trying new practices. The viewing guide is divided into segments for each video and I highly encourage you to use the guide as it can really help you focus as you watch and help you extend your learning. However, before you watch any of the videos, it may be a good idea to use the self-reflection tool, Appendix A: My Questioning Practices to identify what you are already doing well, and an area of questioning practice that you would like to implement or improve.
Please watch the first video using the viewing guide of this series and afterwards, you can choose other videos that may help you progress with your learning goal.
The other day, Ava grabbed her Russian dolls from the toy cupboard that she hadn’t played with in months. I guess the novelty of fitting the smaller dolls in the larger ones wore off and there was nothing else to learn about them. However, this time she decided to do something different with the dolls and she wanted to build a Russian doll tower using all of the pieces. Initially, she attempted to balance some of the flat bottom pieces on the rounded top pieces. This resulted in a lot crashing of pieces and failed attempts at building the tower, which led to a lot frustration. I left Ava to her own devices to figure things out and persevere with her self-directed activity. Thirty minutes later, I had a very proud daughter with her very own Russian doll tower (using all the pieces). Of course, I had to document this learning accomplishment and whipped out my iPhone to record. However, as I tried to get Ava to orally communicate her strategy, I found it very difficult not to explain it for her. Therefore in the video, you’ll hear me struggle with my questioning because I wanted Ava to explain her strategy without me giving her the words.
I could’ve immediately praised Ava for turning the bottom pieces upside down to create a more stable and flat surface however, I wanted to her to make the connection and verbalize it. After watching the video, I wonder if I funnelled her to what I wanted her to say or if I worked with her as she explained. I would love to hear some feedback on this.
I also didn’t expect Ava to ask me if I wanted her to make a different tower. This reminded me as a parent/educator to always set high expectations for our children and students and look for opportunities to extend their thinking. I was fully satisfied with Ava making one tower and didn’t even think to ask if she could build it in a different way (something I always encourage math teachers to ask their students).
Here’s what Ava produced afterwards: