One of the determiners on the teacher evaluation rubric for Tennessee Educators is questioning. According to the rubric
- Questions should be varied and high quality, providing a balanced mix of question types.
- Questions are consistently purposeful and coherent.
- A high frequency of questions is asked.
- Questions are consistently sequenced with attention to the instructional goals.
- Questions regularly require active responses.
- Wait time (3-5 seconds) is consistently provided.
- The teacher calls on volunteers and nonvolunteers, and a balance of students based on ability and sex.
- Students generate questions that lead to further inquiry and self-directed learning.
Whew! That is a mouthful! Most teachers are fine with numbers 2 through 7. It's numbers 1 and 8 (the bookends!) that get you. One deals with our friend Blooms and 8 puts questioning into the hands of students. Most teachers solve #8 through coaching, modeling questioning, and providing students with flipcards with question stems as scaffolding. I want to focus on #1 because thinking of those questions can be difficult.
I'm analogy person, so here I am thinking layers and questioning trying to create an analogy. Hmmm, onions have layers, but I don't get excited when I get to the bottom of an onion...no. Some say that ogres have layers...
Imagine the ocean. You start at the top swimming happily in the surface waters of Knowledge and Comprehension. You are having fun. You are challenged, but not too much, just enough to keep things interesting. Maybe you are snorkeling or swimming or just floating.
Then your friend comes by and wants to dive a bit deeper. You will need some support for that, so you grab your scuba gear (scaffolding, modeling, guidance, yeah, you know). Now you're diving into the Application and Analysis layer. The challenge increases but so does the interest level.
When your students are encouraged to think deeply through higher level questioning, it makes their learning more tangible and it can inspire them to want to learn more about the topics they are studying. Our job as teachers is not just to provide knowledge but to inspire learning. Questioning is one tool that accomplishes that goal.
Click on the picture above to grab a small freebie about questioning. It includes definitions of the different levels of Bloom's Taxonomy, question stems, key words, and a guide for planning questions. You or your students can use it to practice making higher order questions. Enjoy!