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Developing pupil Questioning skills
Asking questions is one of the most natural and effective ways of discovering new knowledge and deepening understanding yet, sadly, pupils spend very little time asking questions. Anyone spending time in a primary school will probably have noticed the number of questions children ask. Contrast this with a typical secondary school; the questions have dried up! What happens between primary and secondary school? Is it the result of their secondary school experience? Is it just not cool to ask questions? Is the organisation and nature of many lessons that gradually stifles curiosity? Do we provide enough opportunities for them to ask questions?

The challenge for us as teachers is clear; somehow practice needs to be changed so that pupils spend more time asking questions rather than answering, typically low order, questions.

Techniques for encouraging pupils to ask questions:

  1. Display key question prompts around the wall of the classroom - How? Why? Where? When? Who? And refer to these
  2. At the end of the lesson ask the pupils “What questions did you ask today?”
  3. Ask pupils to write a question they have on a piece of paper and place it in a specific area of the room designed for questioning e.g. a wall or a question box. They can be anonymous to encourage pupils with low self confidence. This technique can be used at the end of the lesson / video / reading a passage of text. This technique can effectively help reduce misconceptions and help inform planning of the next lesson.
  4. Asking questions yourself helps develop the atmosphere of trust. This not only demonstrates your desire to learn but you are reinforcing and modelling the behaviour you want your pupils to adopt.
  5. Hotseating – The teacher plays a character and sits in front of the class (it would be a good idea to wear a small piece of costume to identify you in character mode). Sit and take questions in role providing answers which, at best, invite other questions. Pupils can also be encouraged to adopt the character role.
Question Prompts posters
Einstein's Mother Poster
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