Joseph Rogers Primary School

September 28, 2015

Questions, Questions, and more Questions

After doing many observations and watching the phenomenal things that are going on in our school, I began to think about the questions that we are asking our students. Last week I had the opportunity to read the Educational Leadership magazine. The entire magazine was devoted to questioning and the questions that we ask our students. This is a topic that many of our pre and post conferences have centered around and I know this is an area that many of you would like to strengthen. I think that we all working hard to refine this area of teaching and it shows your desire to be an extraordinary teacher when you ask for ways to further refine this skill.

Refining our questioning is also one of the reasons that we are unpacking standards. Once we understand what the standards are asking us to do, we will be better able to refine the questions that we ask our students.

Below is food for thought about questioning.

  1. What kind of questions are you asking your students? Did you know the least interesting questions are those with straightforward, factual answers. We are all guilty of asking student's questions that they already know the answer to. These questions are not making our students think. The goal of our questions should be for our students to have to struggle a little to come up with the answer. There is certainly a time and place for knowledge level questions, but where are we spending the majority of our time in questioning our students?
  2. What is the ultimate goal of your questions? Another article made an interesting point when it said the ultimate goal of a question isn't to acquire knowledge - you can always google this. I found it interesting that it stated every minute students are forced to spend memorizing the definition of a word (what is an author?) is a minute not spent wrestling with ideas (what would our world be like if we did not have authors?) When I left the classroom, I am not sure I asked questions that were always pushing students to think harder and deeper. We all like to ask questions so students can successful, but do we spend our time asking tons of questions instead of asking questions that truly make our students think?
  3. Are we giving students opportunities to ask questions? Do you give them an opportunity to ask questions before you begin a lesson so you will know what they want to learn about? Another article in this magazine talked about a teacher that had a great plan and a great lesson. She had students ask questions about what they wanted to learn when she taught the particular topic. Students came up with GREAT questions. But the teacher taught the lesson exactly the way she had planned instead of taking into account what the students had said they wanted to know more about.

A few notable quotes on questioning

Because imitation is a powerful form of learning, much of what students learn about questioning and problem-posing is a result of the teacher's modeling.

Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick, p. 66

Most students believe teachers ask questions to get the right answer (the teacher's answer)- so they stop thinking if a right answer doesn't immediately come to mind.

Jackie Acree Walsh and Beth Dankert Sattes p. 46

I want students to seek information and articulate their confusion. I don't want them repeating information that everyone already knows...

Cris Tovani p. 30

Students who learn to ask good questions are no longer just consumers of information; they are also generators of information.

Catlin Tucker p. 78

I truly believe that the best teachers in Tennessee are right here at JRP. You know how to teach and you know how to get results. I am glad that I am here and that I have opportunity to work with you.


Calendar of Events

what's happening at jrp

September 30 - 4.5 meetings in the conference room during planning

October 1 - 1st grade Grandparents Reader's Cafe in library

October 2 - end of 9 weeks; popcorn and drink; SWPBS reward; lunch provided for you in the library to celebrate the end of the first nine weeks

October 5-9 - FALL BREAK - rest and relax

October 12 - reteach rules for each area in our school

October 14 - Fall picture retakes

October 15 - after school training with HCSO

October 16 - report cards


Every time we ask students, "What was the name of the town in which the characters in this story lived?" we leave less time for questions like "Why do you think the characters never left home?"

-Alfie Kohn