For years, teachers have encouraged students to ask for help if they do not understand.
There is no such thing as a stupid question.
Famous words passed down from generations of educators to their students.
I disagree. Over the years, I have heard a lot of stupid questions. However, I agree with the wisdom even though I disagree with the wording.
You need to ask smart questions.
Whoever asks the questions does all the learning. Students should do more asking than the teachers. It’s a paradigm shift that will take some time to make, but it is important that we teach students how to ask smart questions if they are to become lifelong learners.
When reading a story, my students are only allowed to write questions, of which there are three types.
- Questions that ask for factual information. The answers can be found directly in the text.
- Questions that require inference. The answers are conclusions drawn from evidence from the text.
- Questions that draw out life lessons from the text. The answers are drawn from personal experiences and the text can be used as an example to support their answer.
The following is an excerpt from Touching Spirit Bear.
Bracing himself now against the heavy sea, Cole held that same smirk. His blue jeans, heavy wool shirt, and rain jacket chafed his skin, but it didn’t matter. He would have worn a cowbell around his neck if it had meant avoiding jail.
Copyright © 2001 by Ben Mikaelson
Level one: What does Cole want to avoid?
Level two: What do we know about Cole that shows he has a stubborn side?
Level three: Have you ever wanted out of something so bad, you would do anything?
Throughout the year, I will be challenging my students’ thinking by requiring questions rather than answers. The goal is to help them become lifelong learners. For more information about levels of questions, click here.