Friday, December 2, 2011

How to promote questioning skills in elementary students

I think the approach has to be deliberate. Teachers need to spend considerable time encouraging students to ask questions. They need to design different activities that can promote questioning skills. This week I tried a simple approach.

I put a very boring, mundane word at the center of the whiteboard:


The students had to generate as many questions as they could. The quiet ones were suddenly quite vocal. I made it clear that every question was acceptable.

The students came up with questions such as:
What can cut a pair of scissors?
What would life be like without scissors?
Who decided to call a scissors a scissors?!
When was the first pair of scissors invented?
Can a scissors dance? (hmm)...The students  decided this was a Perspective question.

I then decided to use the PYP concepts of Form, Function, Change, Connections, Perspective, Causation and Responsibility to generate more questions.

We had no questions that came under Responsibility. So the concepts guided us and we came up with: How have scissors been designed to prevent young children from cutting themselves?

The concepts allowed the students to sort their questions out and come up with new ones.
All the students wanted to carry on this activity as homework. They decided the topic (Crocodile- as we are studying ecosystems) and came up with brilliant questions.

One I have to share: Where does  "crocodile tears" come from?

Causation questions are a challenge. Why is something the way it is? I am working on this one.
Why is a crocodile's skin thick? or Why does it have a long snout?...are some examples. I need to squeeze it out from them. Any suggestions about different questioning skills are welcome. I will try them out and post my success or lack of it, on the blog :)


  1. What a messy board! Keep up the good work. (Out of chaos comes order).



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