With years of experience working in an IB school, I became used to starting new units of inquiry by discovering what questions students had about their new topic of study. When I returned to working in a non-IB school, I forgot at what point students need to be used to an environment where they are invited to ask questions, versus being in a learning environment where it is the teacher asking most of the questions. From my early days working at an IB school, I saw how quickly students were so excited to learn because they felt like what they were learning came from their interests and their questions. This so quickly helps change the culture of “why are we learning this, because the curriculum says we have to learn this” to students being excited to learn because they were the ones that asked questions about the topic and want to further their knowledge in that area.
Having experienced this, I am quite passionate about promoting student questioning, to see curious and engaged learners who are eager to learn the “required content”. By simply changing up the way you start a new unit, by exploring what students would like to learn, can completely change the outcome and direction of your unit, while covering all the required material.
I could probably go on writing all day about encouraging student questioning, however being limited to the suggested 200 words, I would like to finish off with the following recommendations:
- Encourage your students to ask questions, no matter what the question is, keep challenging your students.
- Model different types of questioning so students can slowly reach higher level questions.
- Start a new unit of by asking students what they would like to learn, what questions to do they have about this unit.
- Learn more about helping students vary the types of questions they ask and visit Sonya Terborg’s blog post on Concept-Question Cards – This is a great resource to guide you in creating opportunities for students to ask questions. To download a PDF set of the cards that Sonya talks about in her blog click here.
- I challenge you to change the dinner table conversation from “how was school today?” and “what did you learn today?” to “what questions did you ask at school today?”
Let us all be curious together!