According to Ben Johnson, in his blog post,The Right Way to Ask Questions in the Classroom, there is a right and a wrong way to ask your students questions in the classroom. Teachers tend to act like they know everything and they assume that the students don't know anything. He thinks that teachers need to figure out why they are asking questions in the first place. Some teachers say they are asking questions to see who understands what you have been teaching. But asking a question like "Does everyone understand?" is not a good way to really know who understands and doesn't. Johnson feels that this is like saying, I gave you the chance to tell me if you understand or not, so since you didn't tell me that you don't understand it is not my fault. Johnson says, the problem with this is that student may not know if they understand or not.
There are 3 groups of students; the ones who don't understand, the ones who do understand, and the ones that don't care. When teachers ask questions to the whole class the ones who are going to answer are the ones who understand, and the ones who do not understand and don't care are not going to pay attention. Then if you call on a random person and ask them a question, everyone else will just be relieved that you did not call on them. The right way to ask a question, according to Johnson, is to ask the question and wait three seconds before calling on someone (random) to answer. That way you will give all of them time to think about the question you are asking, and by the time you call on a student they should all know the answer.
I agree with Ben Johnson. I can remember when I was in middle school, I was a part of the "I don't care" group. I never voluntarily answered a question. If the teacher was going to randomly choose someone to answer the question, I wasn't worried about the question, I just sat and prayed that she would not call my name.
In Maryellen Weimer's blog, Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom, she gives advice on better ways to ask questions.
These questions are: 1. Prepare Questions- Instead of just making up questions on the spot, think about the questions and write them down so you have your thoughts together about what you really want to ask.
2. Play with Questions- A way to do this is to leave a question open for a while, this is a good way to get the students to think about the question and come up with the answer.
3. Preserve Good Questions- When you come up with a good question you can use keep a note of it and use it again in another class. If you ask for questions and the students do not respond, you can bring up the question to them to get them started to think of their own questions.
Rebecca Alber's blog post,5 Powerful Questions Teachers Can Ask Students, talks about five simple questions that are just as important as the more detailed questions.
These questions include:
1. What do you think?
2. Why do you think that?
3. How do you know this?
4. Can you tell me more?
5. What questions do you still have?
To get the best results from the questions you ask, give the students time to think about their answer. Students age will depend on the time that you need to give them to think about their answer. It is important for you to stay silent and give the students time. This will also help the students work through their thoughts and figure out where they stand on the subject.