Monday, April 20, 2015

I have some questions, and I'm sure you do, too.

You may not think questioning is an academic buzzword, but then again, you may not think - well, I don’t quite know how to end that sentence…

But questioning is huge in the academic world – HUGE.  An entire theory and strategy goes into asking the correct questions of students so the teacher can increase student knowledge and understanding.  I can’t just ask, “What’s the capital of Florida?”  Actually, I can, but I should only ask that in the context of teaching a larger point.  Plus, if I ask that, the class will just look at me blankly, because I teach newspaper, not social studies.

So Q is next in our A-Z blog challenge.  Effective Questioning comes back to Benjamin Bloom, a man we teacher types both love and hate.  Bloom’s Taxonomy is a way of classifying the questions that teachers ask students.  Teachers should start with questions that build on the student’s knowledge, and then take those questions a step further to increase comprehension and help them apply the knowledge they’ve gained.

Bloom’s Taxonomy is pretty helpful for a teacher to evaluate on what level he or she is teaching.  If all your questions start with “What is..?” then a teacher is only operating on the first level, knowledge.  He or she then needs to ask more “how” or “why” questions to try and help students apply or analyze the facts they now know. 

In an English class, you want to start with questions like, “What is Lennie worried about?” before moving on to “What details show that Lennie’s worried?”  After that, you might move on to what inferences a student could draw from the passage, how a student thinks Lennie will deal with the situation (badly, you can be sure), and finally, what the student’s opinion is about how George handled everything. 

Questioning in this way will hopefully show you what the students are learning and how they are analyzing the information.  But Bloom’s Taxonomy isn’t just for educators, no sir. Believe it or not, students often use Bloom’s when asking questions of the teacher.

Knowledge – “What are we doing today?  …Yeah, I know it’s on the board, but can you just tell me?”

Comprehension – “So, you said if we turn it in late, we don’t get any credit for it?  Shouldn’t you just be glad we turned it in?  …What do you mean, no?”

Application – “What’s going to happen if I don’t have it today, because I forgot it at home? I mean I did it, I just don’t have it with me.”

Analysis – “Why do I only get 50 percent credit when I did 100 percent of the work?  What is each day worth?  …I don’t remember what the syllabus said.”

Synthesis – “What would happen if I just tell you what I did, and then you tell me what grade you would have given me?  …No really!”

Evaluation – “How can you say you won’t take it when you took Samir’s paper last week?  …Well, I was sick too, but I came to school anyway.  That’s why I didn’t turn it in, because I was sick.  So can I please get full credit?  …My mom’s going to be really mad at me.”