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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  • Two of my dear friends and colleagues retired today. I worked on teams with both over the years (one in 4th and one in 5th) and they’ve both been my next door (classroom door) neighbors. They’ve taught a combined total of 74 years!!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀We had an outdoor luncheon on our school patio to celebrate their years of dedication to our school. The theme was beachy/nautical and it was so fun to set up...I found most of the decor at the Dollar Tree! We had tons of candles, shells, flowers, and a fishnet with class photos from over the years. (Don’t mind the masking tape on the table in that last photo, it was a bit windy 😂). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀It was a happy and sad kind of day 💕 #retiringfriends #cantimagineschoolwithoutthem #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram
  • A little progress with packing up.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀I am really trying to get rid of anything we haven’t used in years and pack up everything in its place. We’ll see if I shove things randomly away when I run out of time next week 😂!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Are you packing up next week?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#classroomorganization #classroommanagement #iteachfourth #iteach4th #iteach456 #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram
  • Do you ever feel like you make MORE of a mess as you clean out your classroom?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Today was our students’ last day and I stayed for a bit to get things cleaned out and packed but I got so overwhelmed I finally just left. It can wait, right?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#classroomorganization #notpicturedhere #ineed50daystocleanmyroom #wegetone #iteachfourth #iteach4th #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram
  • Anyone still in school? Our students’ last day is tomorrow and I’m feeling all the emotions right now!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀I got this sweet framed gift from one of my students today 😍😭 Getting myself ready for tomorrow’s whirlwind of emotions!!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀If you are wrapping up school soon, best wishes! And if you are already on break, happy summer!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#almostsummerbreak #iteachfourth #iteach4th #iteach456 #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram
  • Have you seen the new outline feature in google docs?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀If you click on the outline icon on the left hand side of your doc (picture two) you will see an outline of all the headings you’ve created.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀When you click on a heading in the outline, it will bring you right to that section...even on different pages! It’s like inserting jump links just by typing out headings!!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Have you tried this new feature yet?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#lovegoogledrive #googledrive #googledocs #iteachfourth #iteach4th #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram
  • Yesterday I shared how I’ve been trying to not just get organized, but STAY organized.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀One of the best things I’ve done to stay organized this year is to presort and store all of the math manipulatives we use often into individual containers.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀So instead of keeping everything in big bins like I had in the past, I started to use individual boxes with the manipulatives already sorted out, enough for each student. (The storage boxes are Iris 4 x 6 Photo Cases...I’ve found them on Amazon in a 10 pack and on some great sales at Michaels).⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀This saves SO much time in distributing materials during math, which is the main reason I started organizing like this in the first place.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀But there was an unexpected bonus of extra organization! Since the manipulatives are sorted for individuals, my students manage their setup and cleanup!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Like in the first picture there are the tiles we use a ton during the year (for area, perimeter, arrays, factors, etc.) Each box holds 48 tiles, four rows of six and two layers deep to fill the box. So when we are done using the tiles, my students arrange them back into the boxes and store them in our math area.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Keeping my math manipulatives like this has helped me stay much more organized this year...everything has its place and my students manage it all!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀How do you like to keep your math manipulatives organized? I loved reading your ideas yesterday...we would love to learn what works best for you!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#classroomorganization #classroommanagement #iteachfourth #iteach4th #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram

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