The first Teacher Advocates session focused on how what good questioning looks like in the classroom. We worked to put together a ‘Top 10’ of questioning strategies that we felt have a strong impact in the classroom.
Purpose: To pause a lesson at an important point to ask students to answer a key question. Usually multiple choice so that you can check students know the answer.
Strategies: Explain to students that this will be testing their understanding of the lesson. Give them a short period of time to answer and explain their rationale behind the answer. Only move on when the class understand the correct answer.
Cold Call Questioning
Purpose: To generate a classroom culture in which any student can be asked a question at any point.
Strategies: Make sure it is predictable, positive and a part of classroom culture. Give students time to think about their answer. Explain that you will not be taking hands to answer the particular question to give students advance warning. Use this to differentiate your questions and check the understanding of all students.
Model good listening skills
Purpose: To build motivation and engagement, to show we value student answers.
Strategies: Give time for students to finish answers; using eye contact with students to recognise their efforts; encourage other students to mirror these listening skills. Use the SLANT acronym to focus them on this aspect. Repeating back to students they key points of their answer as a summary to check we have interpreted it correctly.
Repetition of Key Questions
Purpose: To make sure that students have grasped key concepts and ideas in lessons.
Strategies: Differentiating by repeating questions to a range of students throughout the lesson; having repeated questions displayed so that students continually come back to them. Starting a lesson with key questions then returning to this at the close of a lesson.
Student led questioning
Purpose: To encourage students to generate questions in lessons.
Strategies: Structure opportunities that allow students to ask each other questions in lessons. Give time in lessons for students to write/prepare questions about the lesson. Have student led questioning monitors to generate questions in the lessons.
Link questions to the Learning Objective
Purpose: To ensure clarity of student understanding about the purpose of the lesson. Strategies: Use questions to return to the learning objective throughout the lesson. Write some key questions related to the learning objectives in advance to ensure that this will be explored in the lesson. Ask students to come up with questions related to the lesson objectives.
Check your mirrors
Purpose: To ensure that all students are contributing, have been asked a question and engaged with in lessons.
Strategies: Check blind spots as the lesson progresses. Are certain students dominating? Who has not yet contributed? Using seating plan to tick off who has contributed can help to focus this. Cold call strategies can support with this aspect.
Low stakes testing questions
Purpose: To ensure information has been retained at the start of a new lesson.
Strategies: Start a lesson with ten ‘do it now’ questions that students must answer instantly as they start the lesson. Interleave previous content to check that students can remember information from previous lessons. Can also be used to finish a lesson, five questions students must get right before leaving. Good to build in a competitive element.
Purpose: To ensure quality of listening and engagement, to build further on the quality of answers.
Strategies: Ask a student to expand on an answer; ask a student what was effective about an answer; ask a student what the key point in the answer was; ask a student what words could be changed or improved in the answer.
Speak it Right
Purpose: to ensure students are answering in full sentences and correct English.
Strategies: Encourage students to say it as they would write it, use this as a whole-class philosophy. Ask students how they could rephrase their own or other answers. Have a ‘speaker of the week’ reward. Have a list of banned words that students must avoid. Have a ‘filler detective’ with younger groups,who are responsible for pointing out when fillers are used.