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I am a student at the University of South Alabama, College of Education. My husband Brian and I have been married since 2004, and in 2010 welcomed our son Deigan. I also work full-time as the Marketing Specialist for a local Real Estate company.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

So, the questions are...

get your brain in gear
One of the most important aspects of our job as educators will be making sure our students are learning and growing in knowledge. There are many techniques used to judge whether the students are learning; mainly through testing. However, a very simple way to discover if your students are comprehending what you are teaching is to ask questions. Now, I say this is simple, but in order for it to be simple a little beforehand preparation is required. 

Ben Johnson, who is a High School Principal, Author and Instructional Learning Coach, wrote a great article "The Right Way to Ask Questions in the Classroom" for Edutopia.com. In his article he points out the many misuses of questioning in the classroom. Often times teachers ask a blanket question and are not detailed enough to get an accurate response from the students. Questions should have purpose and should be clear enough that the students understand and can provide the best answer. Here is where the beforehand preparation comes in. Not every teacher is good at "off the cuff" questioning. It's best if when we are preparing our lesson plans, that we write down several in depth questions for our students to answer either in class or the next day. Keep in mind that the questions needs to be relevant to your subject, and should get the students thinking. One of the worst questions a teacher could ask is "Do you understand?" Let's be real, not every student is going to answer this honestly. Most are just trying to hurry and be done with class. And if you aren't getting an accurate response, the question serves no purpose. So don't go easy, and make them use their brain by asking thought provoking questions.

Another key factor to keep in mind when asking questions is that delivery matters! I'm sure at some point we have all seen the scene "Bueller...Bueller...Bueller" from the movie Farris Bueller's Day Off. This is the perfect example of how NOT to ask a question. The teacher asks the question and almost immediately answers the question himself. No encouragement to answer the question was given to the students other than the prototypical "anyone, anyone, anyone". Not one of the students anticipated or was even expected to answer the question. Asking questions should be included in every lesson plan in the appropriate way. Several great tips can be found in The Teaching Center section of the Washington University in St. Louis' website. Many of the tips I plan to incorporate in my classroom. For instance, asking too many questions at one time may be confusing and the students will not respond since they are unsure which question you want them to answer. Also, I plan to allow the students to ask me questions. Children have a unique way of thinking about things and have the potential to provide an alternative view point I may have never considered. Who knows, they may teach me something!

equity sticks
Another idea I plan to implement in my classroom as a great way to keep students involved will be using equity sticks. Using equity sticks in the classroom ensures that every student has the opportunity to participate and therefore prevent the same student answering every question. Equity sticks are basically, popsicle sticks with students' names on them. When a question is asked, the teacher can pull a stick and that student will have to answer the question. Since the students do not know who will have to answer the question, they will all start thinking of the answer. So that if their stick is the one drawn, they will already have an answer in mind. This gets their "gears" moving and keeps them on their toes.

never stop asking questions
So, the questions are...

What questions do we ask?
We ask questions that are thorough, clear and have a purpose. When the right question is answered, it will help us judge our students understanding and will entice them to learn.

How do we ask a good question?
1. Don't overwhelm the students with lots of questions, be specific.
2. Have good delivery. Pause...give the students time to think about their answer.
3. Be creative! Find fun ways to ask questions and keep the students interested.

BP Six


  1. You Said:
    "However, a very simple way is to ask questions."

    *You need to explain what you are trying to say a little better, you should add something to justify this sentence.

    Example: "However, a very simple way to discover if your students are comprehending what you are teaching is to ask questions.

    She Wrote:

    I'm sure at some point we have all seen the scene "Bueller...Bueller...Bueller" from the movie Farris Bueller's Day Off.

    *(I love this movie! This was a great example to put in your blog it made me laugh!)

    You have great word placement and your sentences are very precise and to the point. Also all of your links work and your pictures are linked correctly. Great Job! Keep up the good work.

  2. I have made the suggested correction. Thanks Kayla!


  3. The Stick Pick app is wonderful! It keeps students on their toes and allows the teacher to think about the wording of the question rather than who she is going to call.