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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Asking Good Questions?

Asking Good Questions?

Related Tags: Project-Based Learning
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In the project learning model we teach, every project has a Driving Question. Obviously, we spend a lot of time developing that particular question. It is generally the hardest task for the teachers with which we work, as it is where the teacher commits to finding the most engaging, authentic (related to adult work when possible) question that will speak to the student's personal excitement WHILE also teaching to the standards [a difficult tension and balance].

However, asking good questions (driving questions, project sub-questions, and general questioning in the classroom) is one way to make life and learning an adventure. How do we ask good questions as teachers? And how do we teach the asking of good questions?

As a math teacher, my students would laugh because 99% of the time I answered their questions with a question. Also, when I was helping students one on one, I prided myself on guiding their learning with good questions....until I discovered one day an article where a student said about tutoring: "When I am tutored, I can asnwer all the questions, but when I am taking the test in class, I can't remember the questions!"

That is when I realized that when we ask good questions as teachers, we don't necessarily fully 'close the loop.' We have to find ways for students to be staring at the blank piece of paper (on a test, or in their mind), and then 'create the question for themselves that they have to answer.' Any ideas on how we help students develop that skill?

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Jeannie's picture

This is a really tricky question about questions! The one quick comment I have is that we AT LEAST have to model asking questions. I fear that some teachers quickly wriggle out of situations where they don't know an answer to a student's question. I think by being curious and by honestly saying, "I don't know, let's figure that out!" we can open the door to modeling good questions that lead us to good answers.

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