Asking the Right QuestionsMy wife and I recently went to our son's parent-teacher conference. Micah is in 4th grade and is having a great year. One reason he's having such a great year is because he has some amazing teachers who have connected with my son.
In talking with Micah's math teacher we began to talk about the way he occupies himself when he's done with what the teacher asked him to do. He'll draw, read, lean back in his chair, or talk. You know, typical kid stuff.
We talked about how Micah is into comic books and likes to draw his own super heroes. She talked about how he has plans to sell his comic books for a profit. None of this is new to me because my son is always trying to find a way to make some money on the side.
However, then she begins to tell me how she asked him a pretty simple question one day when he was talking about selling comic books. I'm not sure if the following conversation is 100% accurate, but it's close.
Teacher: How much are you going to sell your comic books for?
Teacher: Why a dollar?
Micah: Just seems like a good price.
Teacher: Will you make your money back?
Micah: What do you mean?
Teacher: How much money does it cost you to make a comic book? Is $1.00 the right price?
After this conversation Micah began to research to see how much his comic books were costing him and how much should he sell them for when they are done. He looked at the cost of paper, markers, pens, and desks. He considered the amount of time it takes to make one and if he has the ability to make multiple copies.
It's not a graded project and there's no deadline. It's just a little project he can work on when he has some time. It's not about the curriculum or a test. It's about connecting math with the real world. Micah's teacher could have made him put away his drawings and forced him to do something more "educational" but instead she saw an opportunity to connect my son's passion for comics with mathematics.
The best part is that I don't think Micah has any idea that she did this. All he knows is that she started asking him questions that he didn't know the answer to and then she helped him find a way to discover the answers.
The ability to ask the right questions that peak our students' interest is a skill that all teachers could benefit from working on. That's what my son's teacher did that day. The right questions led Micah to think about math in terms of business and production. He was doing math without even really realizing it.
So how can we ask the right questions? Here are some times.
1. Ask questions that connect content with your students' interest.
2. Ask questions that lead to more questions and less answers.
3. Ask questions that lead students towards collaboration.
4. Ask questions that connect your content area with other content areas.
What are some tips you have for asking the right questions? Why is questioning more important today than answering?