Good teaching involves many different approaches to presenting information. One of my favorite good teaching practices involves questioning strategies. Often overlooked, asking the right questions encourages the student to use critical thinking and to discover information independently.
The value of a question
A question puts the student in an active position. It encourages them to internalize learning and formulate a response. However, not all questions provoke deep thought. Many require only simple recall, and while that’s a needed skill, it’s not moving into higher levels of thought. Bloom’s Taxonomy puts thought processes into different levels.
Bloom’s Taxonomy is a classification system for learning objectives. It was created to help teach students higher levels of thinking and learning. There are even charts with questions for each level. It’s a good place to start to develop deeper questions, but there is one question that I love asking!
One simple question: How did you get that answer?
This question takes problem-solving a step further. It guides the student through explaining their thought process. This is very difficult for some students.
It takes time and encouragement for them to feel okay with sharing their thought processes and finding the right words to verbalize it. Many students say, “I don’t know” and they really don’t! It’s hard to follow thought processes and explain it. Keep trying. Stay patient. I often say “Think out loud” to encourage them to find the words. Model it for them so they can see how it sounds to think out loud.
I recently wrote about my top homeschool tip: teaching your children where they are. It follows the belief that student success is based on guiding a student through problem-solving according to their potential. The guide can be an adult or another peer who has already gained knowledge on the subject.
Guiding through problem-solving often means breaking down a lesson or problem into smaller pieces or modeling the process. When you look at a student according to their potential, you look not only where they currently are, uninhibited by grades or where others say they should be, but also where they need to be based on the time needed. Some students work faster while others have a slower pace.
Use problem solving and questioning strategies to advance learning
If a student keeps hitting a wall or stalls in learning, guiding them through learning takes the form of problem-solving and questioning strategies to help them advance. In order to do this, you need to put the next lesson aside and spend time discussing the current level to assess their understanding. Some great questions to achieve this are:
- “What do you think this means?”
- “Is there another way we can understand this (concept)?”
- “Can you tell me what this means in your own words?”
It might also mean that extra modeling or concept reduction is needed.
Stay in their zone and guide them through the lesson without jumping to a new concept. Be careful not to look at the world or other homeschool families; just your student and their needs. It’s okay to take extra time on a concept. Success is the goal!