Can you have a good lesson without questioning? I think the answer is no. Let's examine this further.
The real learning takes place when students talk to each other. High level questioning and collaborative learning activities are a must for a good lesson.
There are several ways that students will learn – and make progress – in your lesson.
Firstly - what is learning?
This is a big question which educationalists have researched, analysed and debated for years. Consequently, there is no one answer – but in essence it is
Most importantly for teachers is how do we ensure learning takes place?
Learning for progress has to be information which is embedded. That is, it becomes something which remains in our memory either in the short term or the long term. We need to make sure that new knowledge finds its way into students' long term memory so it can be recalled at a later date for examination purposes!
When it comes to planning lessons then, our choice of activity is vital. So how do we plan effectively? Some of this has already been examined in three earlier lesson planning blogs (Learning outcomes; Starters and Plenaries; Differentiation). Here we will look at the impact of certain types of activities on learning.
In the chart below I have plotted certain types of activities against the potential for learning of each. Note the role played by the teacher in both lesson preparation and lesson delivery.
We need to carefully balance teacher-led activities with those where the students can contribute more fully.
Chart examining type of activity and its learning potential
Here's a question for you - if an activity does not lead directly to learning – how long should you spend on it? What percentage of the lesson can afford to be teacher led, if the students are not actually able to make progress during this time? If you only have an hour – should you spend 30 minutes of that hour talking to the class when there is too little learning potential from this alone?
Here's another way of looking at it. Ultimately we want students to have the opportunities to make connections between new information and existing knowledge or experiences. This is what helps us to learn.
When you are planning your lessons therefore, consider the amount of teacher input compared to the amount of student input and its relationship to learning potential.
The chart below looks at both teacher and student input in relation to learning.
Teacher and student input v learning potential
Examine each of the boxes below - remember the aim is to get a balance between teacher and student input - with the aim of ensuring high learning potential.
Suggested tasks for your evidence portfolio:
1. When observing others next week, try to examine the percentage of teacher and student input, the types of activity and the learning potential of each.
2. Take a look at one of your earlier planned lessons and see if you can adapt it to enable a greater potential for learning and student input.
When you are observing effective questioning, there are certain things you should look out for:
Let's look first at why we ask questions?
As a young child we are constantly asking questions - it is how we learn best. This stops as we get older - probably because the people around us get tired of answering!
In the classroom the best way of encouraging learning is asking questions - the ideal is for the students to be asking the questions! Our job ultimately is to plan for this to happen. (I will write more about this later on in your training.)
Good questioning can...
When you are observing, look out for the following:
For your reflections: what is the impact on learning from each of the teacher's decisions in how they ask their questions?
For further information regarding questioning ... read on
Dr Sharon Williams