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Day 43: 5 Powerful Questions to Own

Alber, R. (2013, October 31). 5 powerful questions teachers can ask students. [Web log]. Retrieved from

What is Sacred:
Now that I have been observing teachers, both veteran and new for over five years, I am hyper aware of the questions that I ask in my own classroom. Every time one of my students asks their class, "any questions?" or "understand?" and then moves on, I cringe just a little and vow to model better questions in class later that week. It does not help to scold them or point it out, I just think if better questions are important and if part of humility as a teacher is to ask questions out of mutual curiosity on thinking and not as assessment, that awareness has to come from the teachers themselves.

Still, students learning to be teachers need specific guidance and sometimes need neon signs to the watering hole, so this article gives 5 good ones that can be go to questions because they are broad enough to just focus on making meaning with content.

  1. What do you think? (asks you to make sense of and apply new information to your current thinking)
  2. Why do you think that?
  3. How do you know this? (making connections with what you’ve read, experienced, seen)
  4. Can you tell me more? (extend thinking)
  5. What questions do you still have?
More sacred is the idea that asking powerful questions calls for practicing major wait time. Teachers cannot ask these types of questions if they are not ready to patiently, humbly wait it out and let the silence fill the room with the faith that someone, everyone is wanting to step forward if given enough support and trust.

Connections to Current/Future Work:

At my university we run a hybrid course which means we meet face to face for one session a week and the rest is done online. I use the discussion board as the opportunity then to gather thoughts and connections from the students on the flipped materials before class. I need to get better at that and keep my purpose clear. For my Intro to teaching course, I use the discussion board to put videos and articles into my students' hands in order to allow them to see the scope of teaching and learning and stick in some pedagogy that might connect or diverge with what they are seeing in their practicum placement.

But in the later courses, I want to use the discussion board and these questions as ways to purposefully discuss and make connections to the larger amount of readings so that when we meet in class, I can have students do activities and teach each other, jigsaw and use the material in purposeful ways.


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