Educational Resources Lets Talk Science Challenge participants

Students with raised hands (SDI Productions, iStockphoto)

Students with raised hands

Summary

The skill of questioning allows students to pursue their ideas and explore the world around them.

Definition

The skill of questioning allows students to pursue their ideas and explore the world around them. Being able to ask rich questions about who, what, where, when, why, and how, enables students to construct their knowledge and develop an understanding of concepts and experiences.

Questioning is important because it…

  • is a fundamental skill across all disciplines
  • allows students to capitalize on their interest in, and curiosity about, objects and events in their environment
  • can lead to further investigations of interest to the students
  • provides opportunities students to take an active role in their own learning

Developing the Skill of Questioning

Students

Educators

Demonstrate an understanding of what questions are

Notice and name when students appropriately use different types of questions.

Demonstrate understanding of the different kinds of questions and how these questions are used for different purposes

e.g., Thin questions:

  • “Where did you go?”
  • “What is that?”
  • “Why can’t we go outside?”

e.g., Fat questions:

  • “How will we organize the boots and mittens so that everyone can find theirs when it is time to go outside?”
  •  “Why did you use that material for the windows instead of something else?”
  • “I wonder what would happen if we made the wheels smaller?”
  •  “Which material will clean up the water spill the best?”

Expose students to different kinds of questions through modeling (e.g., aim to use fat questions when interacting with students).

Post examples of ‘fat’ questions around the room so that other adults can use them as examples when interacting with students.

Ask many different types of questions in different situations

Create a classroom environment that supports and encourages the asking of questions.

Provide opportunities for students to engage in meaningful conversations (with each other, with other students, with educators, with other adults) that stimulate ideas and offer opportunities for them to ask and respond to questions.

Ask questions that lead to inquiries (i.e., testable questions) (e.g., “I wonder what would happen if we made the wheels smaller?” “Which material will clean up the water spill the best?”)

 

Provide opportunities for students to ask questions and find answers in a variety of ways.

Provide opportunities for students to discover the difference between testable and non-testable questions.

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