Effective Question Techniques Teachers Should Use

Classroom Management: A Thinking & Caring Approach by Barrie Bennett and Peter Smilanich

This is a typical question that teachers often ask the class, “Who can tell me the difference between a fact and an opinion?”

It’s not an effective question because it only holds one student accountable and lets everyone else off the hook.

Here is a more effective question, “No hands please; think to yourself for 10 seconds and then be prepared to share an answer when asked.”

This question provides “more accountability to participate and allows less opportunity to misbehave.” I like how it puts every student on guard. They know that you can call on any one of them to answer it and not just the few keeners who always raise their hand.

The authors of the book contend that “over 90 percent of teacher questions will be answered by 3 or 4 students when students are not accountable.”

I know that I haven’t always asked the best questions in my teaching career because I have had classes that totally fit with that statistic. I try to encourage everyone to share at some point over the course of the year, but I regularly have a handful of students who answer more than their share of questions.

We want to ensure that every student is actively listening in the class. Defining listening is a difficult task, however. It is quite possible for a student to doodle and still listen to everything you are saying. “One attribute of listening is that the students can repeat in their own words what was being said.”

I know that I appreciate eye contact and often insist on it. There are some students who can doodle and maintain focus, others will get lost in the drawing and zone out. It’s important for us teachers to know the difference.

Managing a classroom effectively has so many different facets to it. This Bennett book covers pretty much all of them in a conversational style that is easy to understand. It’s a good read for new and seasoned teachers alike.

My 2013 Reading Log (every book I’ve read over the course of this year)

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive (tricks, tips, and lessons you can use in your classroom)