Questioning Techniques

Teaching Idea

"Way of the Sausage"
Rolf Palmberg and Olav Palmqvist: Lecturers

"English language teachers often spend the first ten or fifteen minutes of a lesson revising the text introduced in the previous lesson. Here is an activity that provides variety and pupil motivation in those revision sessions. It is suitable for individual work, pair work, or group work.

Give the pupils a text version where all nouns have been deleted and replaced with one single irrelevant word, e.g. "sausage". The sentence "The man went into the forest and saw two birds", taken from an imagined text, would thus read: "The sausage went into the sausage and saw two sausages."

Invite the pupils to recreate the original text, either orally or in writing. If they like the activity (and most of them inevitably will), challenge them to prepare similar texts at home."

Teaching Idea

"For the Lazy Listener"
Sue Collier, Classroom Teacher Grade 3/4 Melbourne Australia

"Giving explicit instructions is an art. Even the best of us have students that as soon as you have finished giving instructions will ask what they have to do. My solution to this is to have a sign at the top, in the middle of the white/blackboard that states C 3 B 4 M E. Simply, this is to remind all to ask three other students what they wish to know before asking the teacher. Nine times out of ten it works!"

Teaching Idea

"Clap If You Agree"
Teresa Mull: 2nd Grade Teacher

"I have a student answer a question then I say to the class clap once if you agree. Then clap twice if you disagree. Then the majority of clapping will let you know if they understand or not."

Teaching Idea

"Everyone Answers"
Betty Bruhn: Technology Teacher

"In order to have everyone participate in answering a question, I use a variety of techniques. Students will answer a yes or no question, or make a choice between two answers, every student must raise either hand to represent their answer. For those who are unsure of the "correct" answer, they usually look around the room to see what most of the others are doing. Then, I reinforce their answers by asking the question again and getting a verbal response. Lots of sensory learning going on.

Another method is to use thumbs up or thumbs down.

For more than two choices... I have students use their fingers to indicate choice one - one finger, choice two, two fingers, choice three, three fingers, and so on."

Teaching Idea

"Reviewing for Final Exam - High School Math"
Angela Carreira: High School Math Teacher

"I found that my students were overwhelmed with the amount of material needed to review for the end-of-course comprehensive final exam. Also, I found it was difficult to hold their attention for long enough periods of time to sufficiently review the entire course.

So now I have my students do their own review and use it as part of their final exam grade. I have the students do a project where they type out three different example problems of things they learned in the course. Each problem must be from a different section of the course. They must draw a diagram, label it, and write out details of how to solve the problem. They must also give a hint on how to solve such as: "Don't forget to square the radius BEFORE you multiply." Not only does this help the students review different topics we learned on their own, they also learn a lot by having to prepare a presentable project. Most of my students enjoyed the project and some turned in outstanding work!"

Teaching Idea

"True/False Question Cards"
Patty Limenski: 6th Grade Teacher

"Some days it takes me forever to get responses from my students. They duck behind one another trying not to get called on in class. So I came up with what I call my "Question Cards". I find it helps to get my students ready to respond in class and become more engaged in what we are doing.

Each student gets two index cards with the word "True" on one and "False" written on the other. This helps me in being about to elicit responses from my students. As the class usually progresses, we move to "1, 2, 3, 4" multiple choice cards. I found that if I use this early in the class, later in the class it is easy to higher level responses from them. We have even started to make little games out of it. You may find it useful!"

Teaching Idea

"That blank look!"
Sue Beddall: Year 4 Teacher

"Sometimes when I ask my eight-year-olds for their ideas or opinions they are too shy, or is it lazy, to put up their hand and offer their thoughts. In this situation now I say, "O.K. tell the person next to you what you think.", and allow 30 seconds to 1 minute, then call their attention back to me. There will be a noisy buzz while they exchange views, but the result when you ask for their opinions again is worth it. As they have already told one person and not been laughed at, they will be more inclined to tell the whole class. If I want answers particularly from very shy people I may say, now tell me - not what you think - but what your partner said. This way each class member must get an idea from their partner, and this makes them more likely to agree to swap in case teacher asks them!"

Teaching Idea

"Question of the Day"
Hal Stewart: 3rd Grade Teacher

"I have 17 students in my full day class program. Each student is assigned the task of researching and asking the class one question per month. The question must be relevant to what we are doing in class. For instance, today we were exploring the topic of community helpers. Today's Question of the Day was "What does a veterinarian do?" I make sure to approve all questions at the beginning of each day.

Every student in the class must place an answer to the daily question in the answer box. If the question stumps the entire class, I give the student a reward. I show all of the students the answers to the question in a dramatic format. I even play the music from Survivor the TV Game."

Teaching Idea

""True and False Responses"
Donna Wright: 5th-6th Grade Science Teacher

"I have my student "sign" me with the letter "T", in sign language, if the answer is True and with the letter F if the answer is false. This can also be used with Y for yes and N for no."

Teaching Idea

Jennifer Warren, 7th/8th Spanish Teacher

"My Spanish classes play review games where everyone stands in a circle and tosses a beany baby to classmates for them to answer. Often students forget who's already gone, and they get noisy when it's not their turn. Now I tell my students that after they've answered someone's review question, they have to "mummify" themselves. Students cross their arms over their chests like mummies to show that they've already answered, and since mummies can't talk, neither can they! It works-and I teach middle school!"

Teaching Idea

"Tic Tac Toe Learning"
Jessica Files, Elementary Teacher

"I like to spice up my math lessons by using a cooperative tic-tac-toe game with students. I have students create a tic-tac-toe grid. I then assign a list of 9 problems to groups of two students. The students flip a coin to decide who goes first. The student who goes first has to do problem #1. If they get it right, their circle or "X" goes in the tic-tac-toe slot of their choice. If they get it wrong, their opponents circle or "X" goes in the tic-tac-toe slot of their opponent's choice. I find this to be a great review activity for problems of any type. I started using this technique with other content areas and it work well too."