Module 3: Questioning and Discussion in the Classroom
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Module 3: Questioning and Discussion in the Classroom


Once you have established a safe and collaborative
classroom, what else needs to be done to facilitate effective questioning and discussion? Another critical skill is to understand depth
of knowledge and higher order thinking. For a refresher on depth of knowledge and
higher order thinking, you may wish to review Webb’s Depth of Knowledge levels or Bloom’s
Taxonomy. You will want to be familiar with either or
both of these to ensure that you are moving both student and teacher thinking to higher
cognitive levels by asking deeper questions. There are many types and styles of questions,
each with a different purpose, so it is important to be intentional about when you should use
different types of questions. A hook question is intended to be motivating
and engaging, while a reflective question is used to support metacognitive thinking. Other types of questions include diagnostic
questions to activate prior knowledge, questions to check for understanding as a formative
assessment practice, probing questions to get into student thinking, and predictive
questions that strengthen cause and effect thinking, just to name a few. More information on the types of questions
can be found on the Quality Questioning Worksheet in the resources to the right of this video.Even
after creating a classroom culture of respect, reflection, and positive relationships, students
need strong prompts for appropriate discussion. The questions should be a higher order question
from the upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy or Webb’s Depth of Knowledge levels. To keep the students engaged and interested
in continuing the discussion, the topic and starter questions should be related to student
concerns and interests. Even with an interesting topic, the teacher
may need to keep the discussion going by asking clarifying and follow-up questions when there
is a lull in the action. An effective discussion goes beyond turn and
talk, but that is a good start. Discussion can involve the whole class or
smaller groups. Although research reports that students ask
less than 5% of the questions in elementary and secondary classrooms, questioning and
discussions do not always need to be led by the teacher. In fact, discussions may be more powerful
if they are student-led. It is important to encourage all learners
to ask and answer questions.Here are some tips and tricks for effectively facilitating
a discussion in the classroom: Work with the class to create a set of ground rules, also
known as norms, to be followed during discussions, and post it in the classroom. One example of a norm is All initial thinking
is welcome. Direct your questions to the entire class
and wait at least 30 seconds for a response before repeating or changing the questions. Have students write down a response to your
question before discussing as a whole class, so they are better prepared to respond. Don’t stand at the front of the room; rather,
sit down with the students to suggest you are no longer lecturing and to take the focus
off of the teacher. Rather than responding to student comments,
have other students respond to comments. Divide a large class into smaller groups to
discuss questions or problems, and then pull the groups back together to report out and
respond to each other. Protocols for discussion can be found on the
NSRF Protocols and Activities website. There is some discussion etiquette that should
be practiced by the teacher and the students during discussion. Listeners should let the speaker know they
are listening by practicing active listening skills including paraphrasing in which the
listener repeats back to the speaker what the listener thinks the speaker was saying. At the end of a discussion, the teacher or
a student can summarize the discussion and reference back to the discussion when appropriate
in future classroom activities. Remember that you can’t rush perfection! Do not try to rush a conversation. As with other formative assessment practices,
there are low tech and high tech tools that can be used to facilitate questioning and
discussion. With Quizlet, teachers can create online flashcard
games for lower cognitive level questions. This is very effective in early grades, but
these can be used as a warm-up for older students as well. Kahoot is a good tool for using higher cognitive
level questions that build thinking and drive discussion. There are many other questioning tools and
strategies with which you may be familiar. Remember that with any strategy or tool, it’s
the quality of the questions that determines the level of success, not the tool or strategy
itself!

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