About the Asking Great Questions 2 category

After your reflection in Asking Great Questions Pt. 3, post your thoughts on how this practice was for you and how you could incorporate this into your classroom. Create a new topic in this category and respond to two other colleagues.

As it appears that open questions might be generally better than closed questions to challenge students to think in divergent ways, it is important to ask questions that require students’ subjective thinking; ask student their own interpretation relating to an aspect of something, rather than having a preconceived
“correct” interpretation in mind and seek the identification of that particular interpretation through closed question.

However, although these kinds of questions work well for subjects such as literature or history, I wonder what kind of open questions are suitable to have multiple interpretations in more rigorous subjects such as math and chemistry. If we operate on the level of “what is the degree of this angle” or “are these triangles congruent”, there doesn’t seem to be many open questions to ask; however, if we operate on the level of “how does Bob build a bridge?”, I wonder if specific knowledge points can be covered effectively without these open questions being then decomposed into a sequence of smaller closed questions or just instructions.

I really enjoyed this process because I am a fan of “word vomit” and this was certainly that. I was able to throw whatever was in my brain to get it out and then to go back and think about it later. I appreciated the process. I have done something similar to this before in my classroom - I have students write questions and categorize them. However, I also allow them to “steal” from others who have open ended. In the future, I think it would benefit if we tackled some of these whole class. If they can see some of that thinking out loud they may have more success with it.
I do think that the fact that I teach Language Arts, Speech, and Theatre makes it easier for me to incorporate some of this more often. I do wonder if I could tackle this in my speech class when they are conducting research for their inform speeches. It is the speech where their topics vary the most and it might push them into a deeper level of thinking.

I was wondering about how other disciplines could tackle these questions as well (I teach Language Arts, so I find this easier) and I appreciate your comments to this. It would be fascinating to have students study some of those ideas to start thinking beyond the simple answers.

I definitely was able to better develop and revise my questions throughout this process. Specifically, I was able to create more interesting open questions by reading others interpretations and being given time to expand on my thinking.

I can see this process working very well in my classroom. I often use this when teaching argument or informational essays when students are creating their guiding question that drives their research. However, this could easily be expanded into other activities in a simple and quick activity like this one. Just as it did for me, this could help students develop their ability to revise their questions and dig deeper than the surface level into a topic.

I really appreciate your discussion of the challenges of doing certain PBL strategies such as this outside the humanities courses.

I think in STEM classes there are situations were there is one right answer to a question, however I think the beauty of this could be that there are many paths to the right angle. So rather than saying “What is the degree of this angle?” Maybe we can open the question to “How can you find the degree to this angle?” You would still get the right answer, but maybe this would give students an ability to use diverse thinking. Great discussion!

I love that you talked about modeling this question process in front of the whole class. I think that it is so important to not just tell students how to do something but to show them. The best way is having their own peers do this. Such a great idea!

This particular activity was not too far removed from similar question-generating activities I have done in class. The part I appreciated — despite my initial hesitancy to jump into it — was the further modification and categorization of the initially generated questions. I felt a bit of empathy with my students’ collective groan about another step in the process; however, in the end, I gained additionally understanding in the process and I was glad I had done it.

A significant goal for myself this upcoming school year is to slow down. Activities such as this that require critical and application/justification of that thought force everyone involved to slow down. As tough as that may be as the year progresses, I’ll try my best to use this experience as a signpost and reminder.

I think the time component is key. I definitely would have stopped several questions back if I wasn’t forced into three total minutes. Also, good directly connecting the work to the revision process.