Ask Questions

9th February 2007 at 00:00
Good morning, how are you?

Not too bad, thanks, though I have a little twinge in my calf muscle and the beginnings of a slight cold.

I was asking in a general, hail-fellow-well-met kind of way - I'm no medic.

That's the problem with you young teachers. You do not know how to ask the right questions.

And what, pray, are the right questions?

Well that's one for a start. Well targeted. May I summarise?

Go ahead.

Closed questions are quick-fire points to check understanding, but they don't actually develop learning. Best to make them clear or they could end up as "guess what the teacher is thinking" questions. What's an escarpment? What's a noble gas?

After the lesson, please.

Open questions stimulate discussion. How do we achieve peace? What do you know about the Civil War?

I have visited the Battle of Naseby. But anyway, moving rapidly on...

Then there are organisational questions. They have to be narrow and well targeted. Don't ask "Does everyone have the right equipment?" Do ask "Who does not have a ruler?" If you are organising something active, put the verb first.

Stop all this questioning!

Exactly - though that's more of an order, really. Finally, there are disciplinary questions. Don't ask "Where do you think you're going?" Rather ask "Where should you be?"

How would I know?

Try to avoid sarcasm and rhetorical questions. Instead of "Were you brought up in a barn?", just say "Close the door, please."

May I go now?

Yes, that's enough. No more questions Duncan Grey is author of 100+ Essential Lists for Teachers and Getting the Buggers to Learn (Continuum)

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