Unit 2 - Whole class dialogue and effective questioning

Session 2.3 - More on questioning

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Learning intentions and objectives.
In this session you will learn about:

  • further techniques for questioning and handling responses
  • common mistakes made when asking questions in the classroom
  • how to increase pupil participation for answering questions

Success criteria.
To meet the learning intentions you will:

  • practise effective questioning and handling responses
  • role-play a question and answer session with common questioning mistakes to highlight how ineffective some commonly employed questioning strategies can be
  • recognise and plan to use a range of effective strategies to increase pupil participation for answering questions

ICT components.
The ICT components you will focus on are

  • Using Etherpad to make shared notes
  • Planning a lesson with Geogebra

Classroom based activities (with your students, after this session):

  • try another lesson with Geogebra.

Resources needed.

Prepare for this activity by printing out from the file the list of Strategies for increasing participation and cut it up so each strategy is on a separate small piece of paper. You can also write them if printing is not possible. Fold each piece separately and keep them in a basket, box, tray or plastic bag.


1 Making notes with Etherpad

Appoint two scribes, who make notes where appropriate in Etherpad. Occasionally change who the scribes are.

2 Review of follow-up activities from last session

Educator note

If you are running a professional learning programme which follows these sessions in sequence, then you should do the review of follow-up activities relating to the previous session (Questioning). The 'review of follow-up activities' for that session is available here, and also shown below in the session text. However, if you are following selected sessions in a different order, then you should use the reflection appropriate to the previous session you did.

The review of the follow-up activities for this session (to be done at the start of the next session) is available here.

  • Did you complete the activity plan with a focus on questioning (and ICT images activity if applicable)? Please save it in your folder for future reference.
  • Did you do the activity with your students? How did the ICT images activity go? How did learners respond? What issues arose?
  • Which questions did you find useful for interactive teaching? Did you generate any questions that were not previously planned? How were they helpful? Share examples of questions that you would encourage others to use.
  • How did the pupils respond to your questions for interactive teaching? How did you handle their responses? Share specific examples of the techniques that you used related to handling open and deep questions. What were the benefits of the techniques? What were the challenges?

3 Last week, what was your practice like?

Educator note

Dialogue involves building on pupils’ responses so that chains of thinking lead to effective learning.

Ask participants to refer to page 7 in the VVOB handout from last week; it is available at Questioning the questions. Also distribute the TESSA handout entitled Using questioning to promote thinking. The document can be found at File:TESSA Using questioning to promote thinking.doc.

Participants can briefly read through the rest of the VVOB handout (we will do an activity on Blooms' Taxonomy in a later session in preparation for the enquiry unit) and then proceed to the TESSA handout work. Ask them to be swift yet thorough in reading.

Present yourself as available if they need to clarify something from the handouts.

Activity icon.png Writing (5 min): Self assessment of questioning techniques using a checklist. Look at the OER4Schools/Questioning checklist (taken from the green box on page 7 of last week’s VVOB handout on questioning) and see how the statements might have applied to your practice during the past week (i.e. since the last session on questioning). Tick Yes or No.

4 Reading for further questioning and handling responses

Activity icon.png Reading (10 min) for further questioning and handling responses Read pages 2 and 3 of the TESSA handout with the headings ‘Improving the quality of responses’ and ‘Common mistakes in questioning’. Which 2 of these 5 strategies for effective questioning and handling responses would you like to try out in the next week?

  1. Prompting
  2. Probing
  3. Refocusing
  4. Sequencing
  5. Listening

Activity icon.png Role play in pairs (5 min) common questioning mistakes. Have fun role-playing a teacher-student question and answer session where the teacher tries to include as many of the common questioning mistakes as possible. You'll need to be creative to get the most from this activity.

Educator note

Ask participants to keep these answers safely. They will be required for further activities.

The role play activity is supposed to be light-hearted and fun allowing the participants to laugh at themselves. We are all guilty of making questioning mistakes from time to time.

Before proceeding to the next activity, confirm that everything mentioned in the handouts is clear to the participants. If anything is not clear, have a discussion about it and involve everybody.

5 Increasing participation in answering questions

Educator note

Prepare for this activity by printing out from the file the list of Strategies for increasing participation and cut it up so each strategy is on a separate small piece of paper. You can also write them if printing is not possible. Fold each piece separately and keep them in a basket, box, tray or plastic bag.

pupils holding up mini-whiteboards in a classroom
Here is a list of strategies for increasing participation in answering questions, also available as a separate file.

  • Selecting volunteers – a common method. Ask pupils who know the answer to raise their hands and select one of them to answer.
  • Random selection – Write name of every pupil on a piece of paper or an ice lolly stick and put them into a container. Pull out a name (without looking) to select a pupil to answer.
  • Teacher nominations - or “no hands up”. Choose specific pupils to answer your question. Select pupils who generally volunteer as well as pupils who avoid volunteering.
  • Pupil nominations – Ask the pupil who has just answered to nominate the next speaker (change strategy if same pupils are getting the chance to speak).
  • Talking tokens – Cut tokens out of thick paper. Give 2-5 tokens per child depending on the duration of the lesson. Every pupil has to use their tokens by answering questions. (Define use of tokens depending on your lesson, for example, pupils can use tokens by asking questions, volunteering to write on blackboard etc).
  • Mini-blackboard display – Every pupil should write their answer on a mini-blackboard and hold up to show the answer. Then select five pupils who have different answers to stand in the front and further question them about their answer.
  • Advance selection – Tell pupils who are shy and have fear of giving wrong answers some of the questions that you intend to ask, before the lesson. Ask them to think of an answer and select them for answering.
  • Eye contact – Avoid eye contact with dominant speakers. Have a deliberate eye contact with shy pupils indicating that you are expecting them to answer.
  • Talk about participation – Plan a lesson that explains usefulness of participation and eliminates fear of wrong answers. Ask pupils to suggest ideas that will help them to participate yet be responsible for discipline.
  • Criteria based – If the topic for the day is not serious, set a criterion to select pupils for answering. For example, come forward to answer this question if, ‘you have red shoes, or ‘your name ends with s’, or ‘you are the first child in the family’, or ‘you have one younger sister’, etc

You can print this content on a separate sheet here: OER4Schools/Strategies for increasing participation in answering questions.


Activity icon.png Game and discussion (10 min) on strategies for increasing participation in answering questions. Ten volunteers each pick up one folded paper from the basket. They read the strategy on it and then they explain it to other participants through demonstration and/or thinking of practical examples.

Educator note

Encourage volunteers to suggest practical examples. Ask other participants to ask the volunteers questions if any strategy is not clear.

Alternative activity: ask groups to discuss the different possibilities listed – which ones they think would work, and why?

Activity icon.png Same-task group work (10 min) in pairs on using these strategies. Working in pairs, start a new activity template, and make some notes on which strategies you want to try.

6 Video: Questioning Styles and Strategies

Diane L1 photo.jpg
Diane L2 photo.jpg

In this activity, we will watch two videos. Here are some suggested questions for reflection on both videos:

  • What were the different types of questions you identified in the clips? Which types do you think were more effective?
  • Which questions or statements seemed effective in extending pupils’ responses and getting them to build on each others’ ideas? Give examples.
  • How can you adopt or adapt the strategies for increasing pupil participation in your classroom? What would you like to add or change about the practice in the clips?

Activity icon.png Observing, thinking, reflecting (10 min): Watching a video on questioning styles and strategies.

VIDEO

Questioning Styles and Strategies

Questioning Styles and Strategies

Video/Questioning Styles and Strategies.mp4, http://oer.educ.cam.ac.uk/wiki/Video/Questioning_Styles_and_Strategies.mp4,This video is available on your memory stick in the video/Video from other organisations folder.About this video. Duration: (watch on YouTube, local play / download options)(Series: Video from other organisations, episode N/A)


In this 8-min. sequence, Dr. Harvey Silver guides you through a learning session that may help you develop a wider repertoire of effective questioning practices for your classroom. A larger variety can help you engage learners working at different levels.

Activity icon.png Observing, thinking, reflecting (10 min): Watching a video on choosing, annotating and discussing images related to personal safety

VIDEO

Diane Lesson 2 D2.5

Diane Lesson 2 D2.5

Video/Unit 2 session 3---Diane Lesson 2 D2.5.m4v, http://oer.educ.cam.ac.uk/wiki/Video/Unit_2_session_3---Diane_Lesson_2_D2.5.m4v,This video is available on your memory stick in the video/Video from other organisations folder.About this video. Duration: 12:34 (watch on YouTube, local play / download options)(Series: Video from other organisations, episode N/A)

This 10-min. clip illustrates how groups of children aged 10 revisited a collection of images that Diane, a UK primary teacher, had collated during the previous lesson, pertaining to personal safety issues.

Educator note

In the second video, a student from each group comes up in turn to the whiteboard to annotate their chosen images, sharing with the class the advice they had previously generated during group discussions (“as a team working for Childline”, the child abuse phoneline) and recorded on large sheets of paper, or in one case, on the board. Note that an interactive whiteboard was used but a data projector could have been used alone.

The teacher prompted students with open-ended, probing questions such as “What do you think about that?” “Why did Mehmet write “be assertive”? "Why are you [suggesting she calls the] police?” She thereby helped children to be responsive and build on each other’s ideas, make reasoned arguments and develop insights into the characters’ mindsets. Children drew on their own experiences in exploring some complex issues and ethical dilemmas (e.g. the worry that a family would be split up if a domestic violence situation was reported).

Activity icon.png Whole class dialogue (10 min) on these videos, and adding useful question types to your activity template. We asked you to reflect on the following:

  • What were the different types of questions you identified in the clips? Which types do you think were more effective?
  • Which questions or statements seemed effective in extending pupils’ responses and getting them to build on each others’ ideas? Give examples.
  • How can you adopt or adapt the strategies for increasing pupil participation in your classroom? What would you like to add or change about the practice in the clips?

Share and discuss your observations. Add notes to your activity template as to what you can try in class.

7 Planning your questioning activity

Write down any further points emerging about questioning and handling responses in the table that you filled in during the first activity in this session.

Activity icon.png Same-task group work (10 min): Planning in pairs for a questioning activity. Prepare a 10-minute activity for an impending lesson that focuses specifically on questioning and handling responses related to the lesson topic. Work with a same-grade buddy if available. Use the same activity template that you have already started. Include some of the new ideas that have emerged in this session; be sure to include

  • one of the strategies for improving the quality of responses (TESSA)
  • one of the strategies for increasing participation in answering questions

In your pair, discuss which other points about questioning and handling responses should be included in the Questioning checklist? Edit the table using the copy in the checklist file and add your own statements at the bottom.

Notes:

  • You may or may not want to trial the same activity: This is up to you. Both of you can plan the same activity, or a different activity.
  • Think whether you can include ICT in some way: Can you support the questioning activity with some images? You could use your previously made slideshows. If you run your questioning activity before the Geogebra activity (see below) then you can use the netbooks for both!
Educator note

Note answers to these points on the flipchart or blackboard. Remember to demonstrate good questioning and handling responses yourself.

Remind participants to think about their own practice and to suggest specific points that can be observed by anybody. Some questions that you can raise which will encourage participants to think are:

  • What do your questions generally start with – What, Who, When, Why, Where, Did, Can etc? Does this need any improvement?
  • Do you tend to answer your own questions?
  • Do you look for specific answers after posing a question?
  • How long do you wait for before asking the next question or making the next statement?
  • How do you encourage shy pupils to answer?
  • How do you manage the same pupils answering most questions?
  • When a pupil responds to your question, do you give feedback immediately or follow it up with another question?

Ideally these activities will result in a modified observation checklist related to questioning and handling responses. Encourage participants to include as many points in this table or ‘observation checklist’ as possible.

Activity icon.png Agreeing (5 min) a time for peer observation. At the end of this activity, briefly agree with your partner, when you can observe each other. When you do this observation, make sure you take your (amended) Questioning checklist along.

Educator note

Make sure that everybody agrees when they will observe eachother.

8 ICT practice: Different-tasks group work with ICT and activity planning

Educator note

Facilitator distributes "traffic lights". In some parts of Africa these are also known as "robots".[-]In Zambia, and parts of southern Africa, these are known as "robots".[Z]In some parts of Africa these are also known as "robots", but this is not the case in Kenya.[K]In Rwanda these are also known as "robots".[R]...[S]...[U]...[G] This is the first time we mention traffic lights and it would be a good idea to know what they mean in this context. This information can be found on the two pages: Traffic lights, How to make traffic lights. Make sure that before you get to this session you familiarise yourself with traffic lights and that you have some traffic lights ready with you.

Activity icon.png Introduction (5 min) to Traffic lights(a). (Or, "robots", if you prefer.)[Z](Or, "robots", if you prefer.)[R] Traffic lights (robots)[Z] have three lights - red, orange and green. These lights signal to drivers what action they should take on the road with each coloured light having a different meaning associated with it: Red means STOP; Orange means GET READY TO GO and Green means GO. Their meanings for classroom application are as follows:

  • RED means “I’m stuck. I need some extra help. I don’t feel I have progressed.”
  • ORANGE means “I’m not quite sure. I need a little help. I feel I have made some progress.”
  • GREEN means “I understand fully. I’m okay without help. I feel I have progressed a lot.”

While you do practical work in groups, make a stack of your three cards near your groups. Place the colour on top which shows how you are progressing as a group. The facilitator will see the colour and help you appropriately.

Activity icon.png Different-tasks group work (15 min) with ICT on various topics. You now have 15 minutes to do ICT practice, and we return to working with spreadsheets. Below are the two sets of exercises with spreadsheets: one you have already encountered in a previous session, and the other is new. Revisit what you have done, and then work on some new things. Remember, that many of the applications you are using are pretty open ended, so explore additional things that interest you.

1. Basic Calculations

You can print this content on a separate sheet here: OER4Schools/Spreadsheet exercises/1.

2. Formatting Worksheets

You can print this content on a separate sheet here: OER4Schools/Spreadsheet exercises/2.


9 Connecting with overarching goals of the programme

Activity icon.png Open space (10 min). It's now time for the "open space", that gives you an opportunity to discuss issues that have arisen, and to relate those to the broader context of the programme. Do not just gloss over this section, but make time to raise issues, and probe the progress that you are making. You could use this space to:

  • Remind yourselves of the of the Most Significant Change Technique, and e.g. collect more of your stories.
  • Discuss your assessment portfolios: Is there anything that you are unsure about? Is it going well? What could be done better?
  • Check on the work with the classroom assistants: Is this going well? Are there any tensions? Any observations or tips you can share?
  • Reviewing individual ICT practise (such as typing practise).
  • If you are preparing a presentation for other teachers, you could work on the presentation (about what you have been learning, stories emerging from MSC).
  • Remind those who are doing audio diaries, to upload them.
  • You could discuss any other issues that have arisen.

You will find notes and summaries of various techniques and concepts on our reference page, and you might want to refer to those for clarification during this activity if needed.

10 Follow-up activities

Activity icon.png Agreeing follow-up activities (5 min).

Part A: Trialling of your activity and peer observation. Try out your new questioning activity in a lesson and ask your buddy to observe you for just that section of the lesson. They should use your modified observation checklist to see if your questioning meets your own goals but can also add their own comments below the table. In turn, observe your buddy using their checklist.

Part B: Trying our different strategies. You might like to try out other strategies in other lessons, for example those you ticked No to or added your own ideas to in the questioning checklist, or other strategies for improving the quality of responses or participation in answering questions.

Part C: Geogebra and netbooks. Do the Geogebra-based activity. As you do the activity in the classroom, try to see how familiar your students are with using the netbooks.

Educator note

In the next session, these follow-up activities will be reviewed. If you are using this session on its own, you can have a look at the review of follow-up activities here.


Educator note

At the end of each session, we provide an overview of the activities in this session, together with their suggested timings. Although this appears at the end of the session (for technical reasons), you should keep an eye on this throughout the session, to make sure that you are pacing the workshop session appropriately!

Total time: 120 (min)

Activities in this session:

  • Writing (5 min): Self assessment of questioning techniques using a checklist.
  • Reading (10 min) for further questioning and handling responses
  • Role play in pairs (5 min) common questioning mistakes.
  • Game and discussion (10 min) on strategies for increasing participation in answering questions.
  • Same-task group work (10 min) in pairs on using these strategies.
  • Observing, thinking, reflecting (10 min): Watching a video on questioning styles and strategies.
  • Observing, thinking, reflecting (10 min): Watching a video on choosing, annotating and discussing images related to personal safety
  • Whole class dialogue (10 min) on these videos, and adding useful question types to your activity template.
  • Same-task group work (10 min): Planning in pairs for a questioning activity.
  • Agreeing (5 min) a time for peer observation.
  • Introduction (5 min) to Traffic lights(a).
  • Different-tasks group work (15 min) with ICT on various topics.
  • Open space(10 min).
  • Agreeing follow-up activities(5 min).

If you have printed this session for offline use, you may also need to download the following assets: