Questioning Questioning

What could I examine about my questioning?

What is the ratio of teacher talk to student talk?

Record your class lesson for about 10 minutes. Determine how long the teacher talks, the students talk, or there is silence. Is this the ratio you'd like to have? Can the students learn if they are not talking? What is the purpose of the silence? Who breaks the silence?

Do I treat students differently? What differences can you find that are evidence of this?

Record your class or invite an observer. A video tape will be much more honest than your own reflections and perceptions. Try to find EVIDENCE of how you treat children. Does your language change (i.e. slang/accent) based on the student? Is this intentional or appropriate? Do you treat students differently in any other way?

What form of feedback does the teacher provide?

When a student answers a question, how do you evaluate it. Try to classify your responses as: praise, acceptance, negativity, redirection, dismissal, etc. Then make a tally chart to see how you react to students. Go back a second time and look at who receives the praise and who receives the negative comments.

What types of questions am I asking?

Tape record a lesson or invite an observer. Make a tally chart to see what kinds of questions you are asking. Are they easy, basic recall questions? Are the critical thinking application questions? Which students get the "hard" questions? Are there follow up, elaborating questions?

To whom am I asking the questions?

Record a lesson or invite an observer. Am I asking individual students questions by name? Am I taking volunteers only and do not call on those who do not raise their hands? Do most of my questions go to the entire class? What happens if more than one student answers? Do I ask the same question to different students even if the correct answer has already been stated?

Are my questions worded clearly?

This one is simple. Record your class or invite an observer. Write down verbatim what questions you asked. Did they make sense? Would your students know what you mean or what you want them to do? How could you re-word them or focus on asking precise questions?

Am I talking too much about behavior?

Record your lesson or invite an observer. Tally how many comments you make about behavior and to whom they are directed. Are you spending an overwhelming amount of time talking about behavior to the SAME student? I'd rather talk about academic content! Can you think of some non-verbal ways to correct the behavior, such as proximity, eye contact, silence, or "tokens" ?

Who is talking more: boys or girls?

Is there a "trend" in your classroom based on gender? How can you change this? Are they talking on task or off task?