Excellence in Education: Close-Ended Questioning
Somewhere along my educational and teaching journey, I remember being told, “We [teachers] should only ask questions that we don’t know the answers to.” Research supports this but only partially as studies by Blosser (1973) and McNeill & Pimentel (2009) suggest that close-ended questions inhibit student learning and focus too much on lower-level thinking skills.
I understand the premise, but closed questions--those with an finite number of possible answers--have a very important place in classrooms. Closed questions should be used to confirm and check student understanding.
But here’s where we can make a little change.
We should be using closed questions in a variety of formats as part of our formative assessment-feedback loop. Closed questions are only effective when they are part of a specific instructional sequence to ensure student mastery.
Robert Marzano outlines a four-phase questioning sequence outlining the importance of a coherent plan of action designed to build on prior knowledge and to prompt and deepen learning.
- Detail questions to activate and build students’ background knowledge
- Questions may include information about people, events, projects, products
Categorization questions to help students identify common characteristics
- Questions may ask students to identify examples or make generalizations
Elaboration questions to prompt students to make claims
- Ask Why and What if…
Evidence questions to require students to defend their claims
- Ask for support, provide restrictions and encourage students to find errors
Walsh and Sattes (Quality Questioning: Research-Based Practices to Engage Every Learner, 2005) encourage questioning that
- Directly relates to learner targets and challenges students to think and provide relevancy to them
- Elicits knowledge related to the concepts being studied and builds on prior knowledge
- Engages thinking at the cognitive level according to student readiness while encouraging students to see patterns and relationships
- Is clearly communicated to students using precise language that is understood, unambiguous and simple.
Close-ended questions can help students put complex thoughts into words and can be a starting point for a more complex question. They can be an effective scaffolding technique. Working with students, especially those who are quiet or struggling, used closed questions to encourage students to clarify, elaborate and justify their responses.
As you teach this week, perhaps you can reflect on your practices by asking, How can you use closed questions to scaffold instruction for quieter students and students who may lack readiness?
Additionally, you could have a student tally how many questions you ask during a class period. Research shows that we tend to ask three times the number of questions that we think we do.
I’d love to hear about your experiences and reflections.
Need To Knows
Monday: Pajama Day
Tuesday: Tropical Day (Gotta’ feeling Dean Eliason’s got this one covered)
Wednesday: Generations (We gotta figure out what generation we should dress as)
Thursday: Neon/Tie-dye Day
Student Emails: When emailing students, you should not be using their personal emails. Please use their school-issued emails.
Friday long lunch: Please note that there’s a transition period between 1st and 2nd lunches. For those eating second lunch, please do not dismiss your students before 11:34.
Our leadership class is in need of chaperones for our Homecoming Dance on September 23. If you’re interested, please let Ms. Meade or Ms. Lawrence know.
We will be hosting a faculty tailgate on Friday before the football game. Please feel free to bring your family. RSVP by sending an email to Heather Charles.
Our Kickball team lost our first game of the year. The MVP of the game was Lauren Thomas who stood tall at the plate while an opposing player charged towards her. Lauren took star pitcher Pryor’s throw and applied the tag!
We have a series of Professional Development activities planned for Friday. We will begin at 9:00am. More information will be forthcoming. Please let Mr. Vrhovac know if you’ll be absent. We’ll also be taking our staff pictures, so please wear your 2017-8 staff shirts!
We have a faculty/staff account with Remind. If you’d like to receive important blast texts, sign up by texting to 81010 with the message @mohsstaff.
Technology / Website Permission Request Form Please use this form to request use of a website or any resource that requires student log-in if the site is not already on the approved list. DART approved list
Morning Announcement Stream: http://streaming.k12albemarle.org/ACPS/links.htm Please be sure to have announcements cued and ready to go at 8:55 every morning.
Announcement Request: http://tinyurl.com/requestannouncement
Calendar and Memo Items
Sept 21: Senior Picture Day, Pep Rally
Pep Rally Schedule
1st lunch: 10:56-11:26
2nd lunch: 11:36-12:05
3rd lunch: 12:15-12:43
Leave classroom when dismissed
AM CATEC Students: Leave CATEC at 11:55am to return for 3rd lunch
PM CATEC Students: Normal bus departure will return for Pep Rally
Sept 22: Professional Development Day
Homecoming Football Game
Sept 23: Homecoming Dance
September 20: Deleanna Eddy, Madeline Michel
September 24: Janet Whitmore
Tech Tools: Two Classroom Noise Monitoring Systems
Bouncy Balls This one’s simple to use. Simply go to www.bouncyballs.org and allow the site to use your microphone. While the site is projected on your overhead, the balls bounce higher as the volume increases, providing a visual cue for students to speak more quietly.
Zero Noise Classroom is a Chrome App that can be downloaded here. It’s a little more robust and includes a noise level display and a stopwatch. After setting the timer, the app monitors classroom noise. When time is up, it displays the amount of time that the noise level exceeded the optimal level, which you set.
Worth Your Time
5 Ways Teachers Can Challenge Inequality in the Classroom This is a British article, but it’s a must read!
County School Board Formulates Strategic Plan Stay in the loop; High School 2022 will be part of our faculty meeting on Friday