Don’t Answer Questions

April 12, 2014

Don’t Answer Questions

April 12, 2014
Sounds kind of unteacherly, doesn’t it?
But I promise it isn’t!
Before I tell you though, I must share the exciting news…it’s a new month of Bright Ideas!
And, just like last time, I’m linking up with tons of my blogging friends to bring you another month filled with teaching ideas. In a crazy-hectic year, this linky has truly become one of my favorite things to look forward to!
So. Back to the questions.
There are a lot of questions that come up during the school day, aren’t there? And I love that my students are always thinking critically and know they can ask these kinds of questions during all lessons.

But I had been wondering lately…was I really answering them in the best way possible?


Sure it’s great my 5th graders are asking thought-provoking questions…but in the fast-paced frenzied feeling of the school day, I felt like I wasn’t taking the time to do these questions justice. I felt like I was just giving an answer back automatically.

Then, one day during a math lesson, it hit me:
Don’t answer all of their questions.
So a student raised her hand and asked a thoughtful question.

I opened my mouth, stopped, closed my mouth, and hesitated.

Then I said, 
“That’s a great question…I’m going to turn that back to the class.”
“What do you think?”
There was a brief moment of quiet, maybe of a bit of surprise at being asked to reflect on a classmate’s question. But then they got talking…and solving!
It didn’t take extra time I had feared losing. It was actually quick and engaging for my students. I realized then I had a new strategy to utilize in all subjects.
Turning student questions back to the class has helped them in so many ways. This type of discussion has allowed my students to:

Students are asked to think critically about answers and solutions to these questions. What background knowledge do they have? What known strategies can they apply to answer this?

This type of questioning and answering lends itself so naturally to a Turn and Talk format (which my 5th graders are VERY fond of!). An engaged class makes a happy, learning class and THAT makes for a very happy teacher!

Student-led questioning and answering also brings a sense of belonging to an academic, collaborative community. Students know their questions are valued. They are a guiding force in the learning. I have noticed an increase in the amount of high-level, thoughtful questions asked since we have begun this format.
I realize this is probably something many others do and I do not wish to act like I’ve invented something new…but what I have learned from this experience has impacted my teaching in all subjects.

I’ve learned to listen even harder, take more time, and let my students guide their way in learning when the questions call for it.

It truly has been one of the best experiences this school year…one I know I will carry with me into the future.

So…are you ready to read some incredible bright ideas? I have been waiting all week for this!! Just click on any of the wonderful blogs just below:

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