What do teachers do 400 times a day, 70,000 times a year and spend a third of our time in the classroom doing? Allegedly asking questions. Since spending time observing colleagues’ lessons I have started to become fascinated with questioning. It is something every teacher does and yet even within our one College the variety of techniques is intriguing.
It became clear to me that questioning can be a powerful tool in the classroom for a number of reasons. Obviously it can help check knowledge and therefore be developed into effective AfL, it can help diagnose difficulties that individuals are having to enable effective differentiation, but it can also be used to really make learners think. It is this aspect that I wanted to develop in my teaching and wonder if it might help others to consider.
After reading a few articles (including from Teacher’s Toolkit online – an amazing resource, Launch Pad, about Bloom’s taxonomy and others and The Educational Leadership publication) I decided to consider more carefully our questioning techniques in our psychology classroom. Specifically I wanted to consider;
- Initiating a ‘No hands’ policy in class;
- Plan the key questions for each lesson (related to learning objectives;
- Allow pupils more time to answer questions (on average they are given one second, research suggests eight is required for ‘metacognition’);
- Start each lesson with a question;
- Try to use open ended questions more;
- Practise and develop the use of Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce, when appropriate.
This seemed like a good place to start, some practical and tangible ideas to improve my practice. Once these were in place and I had been able to reflect on them, it provided me with the opportunity to consider my next steps in considering question taxonomies, higher order questioning, ‘extending and lifting’ and sequences of questions.
See part 2, soon, for more details of this journey…
Mike Lamb teaches biology and psychology at Hurstpierpoint College, Sussex.