Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Smart Questions

OK picture this:

You're in the middle of explaining how to write an essay, or a tricky grammar point.

You've already done the warmer, the model, the example, drawn your visual and maybe made some comparisons. You do some examples on the board and most of the students get it.Then you get one student who raises their hand, "I don't get it" they exclaim.

OK, take a deep breath, "What don't you get?"

"All of it" they respond.

Then your brain starts turning... There's no way you don't get all of it. It's so easy. It's step by step. There's a cute little table on a worksheet explaining quite clearly the different options... and you find yourself slowly getting frustrated with the student.

Now, I hope I am not a bad teacher. I hope other teachers feel this way too. Because the thing is, I like when students ask questions! I understand that for many students it takes a lot of courage to ask a question, and if one student is confused, there is probably another confused student. I just prefer that they are asking good questions!

I was reading a math blog (because I believe all teachers can learn from one another, not JUST English teacher from English teachers) and I found this great goodie. Basically the teacher makes these reminders that go on the students' desks. When they have a question they are reminded to ask smart questions. Here's my version via muzy.

I used to spend a lot of time teaching Bloom's taxonomy, so students would know how to ask good questions. Instead of, "What's the answer." they can ask, "Why did you do this step?" It seems simple, but some students really struggle with asking the right questions.

If you prefer acronyms remind your students their questions should be S.M.A.R.T.

Specific Meaningful Advanced Relevant and Tangible

Here's the great part. Once they start asking the right questions, not only is it easier for us to help them, it is usually easier for them to help themselves! One of my main goals is to make learners more autonomous, so this is a step in the right direction!

How do you make sure your students ask good questions?

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