Editor’s note: This is an updated version of a blog post published on December 21, 2017.
The art of effective questioning (one teacher’s perspective)
Why is effective questioning an art? Because it takes time, practice, and a lot of reflection. In our experience, asking the right questions in primary maths classrooms helps us understand what our pupils know, don’t know, and need to know. Questioning has allowed us to identify learners who are struggling with particular concepts, and those with more advanced learning skills. On top of that, it’s been an essential tool for assessment, and has enabled us to better develop learners regardless of their current state or attainment level.
As classroom teachers, we all understand the importance of providing a framework for students to work within. The questions we ask and effective assessment we provide can help form a canvas upon which they can express, explore and deepen their knowledge.
For us, the importance of questioning emerged after we realised the need to uncover ways to learn what children know throughout the lesson — not just at the beginning. Asking open ended questions provided the insight we were looking for.
We realised that starting a maths lesson with a question, problem or Anchor Task gives children the ability to dig deep into their knowledge-banks and actively use what they already know. It provides them with an opportunity to make connections and transition smoothly into new concepts.