Reflection Part 2-Demonstrating and Questioning
My mother made me a scientist without ever intending it. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: “So? Did you learn anything today?” But not my mother. She always asked me a different question. “Izzy,” she would say, “did you ask a good question today?” That difference–asking good questions– made me become a scientist! Courtesy of Education Publications Center
Good questioning, that is the key! To simply ask questions is easy, but to ask questions that expand on student thinking, activate student connections to self and scientific concepts, strengthen student comprehension, and allow students to synthesize ideas/concepts, is a much harder task. Throughout our lesson development assignment this week our focus was on questioning and demonstrating. While the demonstration portion, for me, comes a bit easier, specific questioning and question development, is a bit trickier. One big idea that became clear is that whenever there is an opportunity to help students deepen scientific understanding, a question is not far behind.
Questions can take all forms; simple “yes or “no questions, polling questions, prior knowledge activation questions, connection questions, evaluative questions and synthesizing etc. However, throughout this week’s assignment, I have come to better understand, the process of successful questioning is not a thoughtless one. Questioning requires specific planning and predicting of student response. To question specific scientific concepts would only be easy if the students participated in investigations exactly as planned. But that is not a realistic scenario, no lesson ever unfold exactly as planned. The real question then becomes what is the key ingredient to the planning successful, interactive, and educational lesson? The answer is a lesson that demands for the teacher to be adaptive, specific, and flexible in their questioning ability. A lesson can be planned to happen one way only to have to change it midstream as students involve their own schema. Having the ability to understand specific questioning strategies and how to apply it, within a lesson, to deepen student understanding, proves to be a successful tool for any teacher.
This idea of developing specific questioning strategies is one that I hope to practice repeatedly and across curriculum. I found the article, Three Story Intellect, extremely supportive in honing questions as I planned my lesson. The marriage of Blooms Taxonomy and Costa’s Levels of Questioning provides specific patterns and academic language necessary to develop better questioning skills. These specific language skills help support and challenge the student’s improvement of their own academic language skill set. To improve more comprehensively my strengths and challenges as an educator, I hope to continue to adapt and support each student’s academic growth through specific “good” questioning.