Asking Key Questions

One of the keynote presentation speakers at the recent Texas ASCD Conference was Dr. Jackie Walsh.  Her presentation was, “Questioning for Thinking:  Helping Students make Connections”.  Dr. Walsh talked about the importance of asking quality questions and developing effective questioning strategies to activate, support, and sustain student thinking.

Dr. Walsh shared the impact that teachers have on student learning when they think of the types of questions they want to pose while developing their lesson plans instead of thinking of them spontaneously while teaching.  As a teacher of teachers, I have observed how the quality of questions asked by teachers increased when they took the time to think of effective questions before teaching the lesson.  Their questions became more open-ended and required responses that were at a much higher level of thinking.  Students were more engaged and the discussions became much more in-depth.  Teachers would comment on how difficult it was to think of effective questions at first, but then the more they practiced, the easier it got.  They began to help students ask questions of each other and that’s when teachers really started seeing student progress increase.  Students were taking responsibility for their own learning!

As with any new learning, teachers need to reflect on the questions asked after the lesson to analyze the responses given by students and how the questions could be improved.  Teachers not only need to carefully think of the questions they ask of their students, but they also need to analyze the type of questions presented in instructional materials before making any purchase. can help educators be assured that the type of questions asked in instructional materials align with the level of thinking required in the standards.

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