Track The Questions

You Ask

Teaching through questions is only as good as the quality of the questions. Classrooms often feature a constant stream of comprehension questions and yes/no questions - the kind of questions that elicit only simplistic answers (and tend to suggest that there is only one right answer). In contrast, thoughtfully placed questions that require students to use higher-order thinking skills encourage students to probe deeper, follow their curiosity, solve problems, and construct knowledge and meaning.

 

What kinds of questions do you ask? Are your questions effectively spurring students’ learning? In this Challenge you will track your questions and look for opportunities to insert more-powerful questions into your teaching.

What you will need

Time estimate 

1 hour + 1 class of recording time 

 

​Materials
video camera/audio recorder, paper, pen

REMOTE LEARNING NOTE: If you are using video meetings with your students you can learn a great deal from watching recordings of these sessions. Just make sure you have permission from your school/district to make a recording as there may be specific rules around doing so. 

Directions

  1. In order to build your practice of using effective questions in your teaching, you first have to know what kinds of questions you already use. Choose a class period (or longer) to record all the questions you ask. You can invite a trusted friend to visit your classroom and track your questions, or you can record yourself on camera or an audio recorder. Write down (or have your visitor write) every question you ask during that period. Consider using this tracking sheet which will help you see patterns right away. REMOTE LEARNING NOTE: Consider inviting a colleague to sit in on your remote lesson to do what is described above! 

  2. Then review your questions. What kinds of questions do you hear? Notice some or all of the following:

    • Are your questions open-ended or closed?

    • Do you hear words like who, what, when, where or words like why, how?

    • What sorts of answers do your questions produce - e.g., recall of facts, analysis of a concept, or generation of new connections or ideas?

    • What types of thinking do your questions require of students?

  3. Now listen to or watch your recording again (or ask your friend to recall the lesson). Look for moments where you could pose a meaningful, effective question to a student. Imagine what those questions might sound like (maybe even practice them!). Here is a cheat sheet you can hang near your desk with effective question starters. Try to formulate questions that have some or all of these characteristics:

    • Begin with how, why, or what do you think about...

    • Ask students to make connections across lessons, concepts, or even content areas.

    • Require students to generate new ideas or solutions to a problem.

    • Prompt students to investigate further.

    • Have more than one right answer.

  4. Give yourself time to practice effective questioning. Then, re-evaluate. Continually self-assess to observe your questioning techniques and to strengthen your practice.  ​

Want to see a list of the challenges that you've completed or print off a certificate to show your school? Log into the site here and we will keep track!

Now that you've logged in, click the button below and then press submit. Remember to log in before hitting submit!

Did you like this challenge and want to try another?

​The Poster Analysis challenge will help you to explore the implicit and explicit messages in your classroom.

Lunch Date challenge asks you to eat lunch with a group of students, without talking about school.

Join the discussion!

What did you notice when you tracked your questions? What did you change?

Share back one of the new questions you have tried.

©2020 by Center for Inspired Teaching

Learn more about Center for Inspired Teaching

Learn more about our Professional Development