Questioning is at the intersection of art and science in teaching. Week three of the MTBOS blogging initiative was supposed to be about questioning – two weeks ago BTW – but I had a hard time coming up with something math related. It’s almost been two school years now since I was in the classroom…
The questions I seek to ask I’ll refer too in terms of questions I ask teachers when designing lessons or their students, as that’s primarily the domain I’ve been in for the past two years.
- Is it student centered or teacher-centered?
- Are there multiple ways for students to express their understanding? (And then naturally, rubrics that assess the what not the how are important)
- Why is this lesson important for student learning?
#1 is often very hard for teachers to see and takes practice and feedback. As an adjunct professor and also in my work at OpenEd, I often use Google docs to give feedback to people so that I can ask questions to help drive them to greater student-centeredness. It isn’t how they were taught so is hard to get them to think about it in new ways.
#2: I typically do a unit on what I call storytelling tools – what others might call presentation tools – for my student teachers and masters degree students that they love. I talk about how things like Powerpoint are alright but they’re so linear there’s not a lot of room for creativity. Instead, to use tools like ThingLink, Padlet, Powtoon, Prezi, Storybird, and Zaption to allow students different paths to convey their learning.
#3: I remember during the days of Understanding By Design, they would talk about the ONE THING that students will remember about your class. Recently I had the privilege of going camping with a handful of students who used to be in my class (and on my sports teams that I coached) as far back as ten years ago. I asked them the one thing they remembered about my class or coaching. I suppose I was hoping for “you explained things well,” or, “you pushed us.” Their common answer?
You didn’t give up on us.
Postscript: Sentimental Pictures from the camping trip. (From 2007-2014 I started a triathlon club–>nonprofit that helped low income kids get into triathlons. One way we funded it was running races where the kids would all camp with us and set up/do the race.)
2010: Raymond, Albert and Ben were there… (and I wasn’t even married yet)
2016:Now everyone is turning 21 or higher…