5 Ways To Help Students Ask Better Questions

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5 Ways To Help Students Ask Better Questions

by Terry Heick

There’s nothing I care more about than students, and there are few things I think can serve a student better than being able to ask the right question at the right time.

In “Why Questions Are More Important Than Answers,” I said that “Questioning is the art of learning. Learning to ask important questions is the best evidence of understanding there is, far surpassing the temporary endorphins of a correct “answer.” And while I sometimes disagree with things I say after hearing or reading them later, that still holds up.

Questions are causes and effects of learning.

I saw the above graphic a few months ago while I was researching question-formation strategies. That post is still about 2/3 finished but after that long, I thought it made sense to share this graphic to kind of frame that content whenever I finally get off my keister and get it together.

Warren Berger shared it last year on edutopia, so I thought I’d help build on it by adding some strategies for each of the ideas. Note: Berger is the author of A More Beautiful Question: The Power Of Inquiry To Spark Breakthrough Ideas (affiliate link), a worthwhile read for any educator or parent, if not grade 10+ student.

If you have any you’d like to add to the mix, take to the comments, or head on over to edutopia’s original post and contribute there.

5 Ways To Help Students Ask Better Questions

1. Make it safe.

Use write-arounds, exit slips, or backchannel discussions for sharing questions.

2. Make it cool.

Publish the best questions. Have a question hall-of-fame. (I used to take huge post-it notes and hang them all over the walls and write great questions I over-heard during class–called it “intellectual graffiti.” Students loved re-reading these–especially students from other classes who’d ask “Who asked this? Who said that?,” and were often floored at my responses.)

3. Make it fun.

Create a concept-map of the short and long-term effects of a great question. Write them on post-cards and have students #hashtag instagram or twitter posts holding said cards. (Here’s an old but still mostly useful post–1oo twitter tips for teachers–with related ideas.)

4. Make it rewarding.

Give actual points for good questions. Help them ask great questions about their own lives, and create “assignments” where they have to follow-through somehow on that inquiry.

5. Make it stick.

The more authentic and non-academic the great questions are, and the more often they’re revisited (naturally and authentically), the more they will stick.

5 Ways To Help Students Ask Better Questions

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