This was My Daughters IdeaI have been seeing the statistics going around twitter regarding the amount of questions that a teacher asks compared to the amount of question a student asks. It concerned me. Soon after this I told my daughter and my wife about the statistic that I was seeing: Teachers ask 200 questions per week and the average student asks 2 questions per week. I continued to tell them that my students had not asked very many questions that very day. My daughter listened and then suggested I should require my students to ask a question. I thought that was brilliant. I decided to use it the next day when a colleague Rachel Fruin @rachelfruin suggested I use the phrase ASK ME A QUESTION. So there it began.
My First ExperienceI immediately used this technique in class the next day.
My students were working independently on a few problems when I set the Ground Rules. I told my students that I was going to require them to "Ask a Question" when I was walking around to each person. I also said that if they did not have a math question, that they could ask any other (appropriate) question that they liked. One way or another, they would have to ask me a question.
It was amazing. I had really good questions for the most part. Most of the questions were math related.
- I gained a whole new appreciation for some of my students who usually are silent.
- I could tell that this was freeing to some students who were embarrassed to ask a question previously.
- It was really fun to dialog with the students.
- I actually had a conversation with most of my students that day. Which was unusual.
- Some questions were related to math but not necessarily about a concept. IE Why does the slope formula start with the second point? That was a cool question.
- Many of the non-math questions were superficial. Some were complex and not easy to answer. One of my students asked if I would take 3 trillion lions or the Sun in a fight? Where do they think up this stuff?
My Second ExperienceThe next time I used this technique was within a whole class experience. I presented a topic that was complicated. I asked for questions and no one had any. (They probably had some but were a little nervous to ask) Then I told them that they had to talk to their partner about a possible question they would like to ask. Then I said "Ask me a Question." Then I called on students at random. Here is what I found.
- The questions were vague at first
- Other peoples questions helped refine the new questions.
- I didn't answer all of the questions.
- When I didn't know the answer, I told them so.
- Some students said they didn't have any questions. I just came back to them after someone else asked a question.
- The same questions were being asked in different ways. This told me that A) They weren't listening when someone else was asking a question or B) They really don't understand what is going on. This helps me to know where the class stands on their understanding level.
- The class really did have a lot of questions but needed the structure to ask questions freely.
Overall, I would really encourage you to try "Ask me a Question" sometime soon. What do you think? What have your experiences been with this?