Friday, March 8, 2013

SOLSC #8 What questions do you have?

Two Writing TeachersSlice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC)

Last night, my son Bryce (17) searched the house looking for an old sheet, in order to make a toga for himself.  He was giving an oral report about Socrates in his Philosophy class today, and his teacher had challenged him to dress "in style."  This high school senior was delighted with the report, and as he readied the bedsheet, he delighted my husband and I with his practice - the entire report would be given in questions, the Socratic way.  

There is so much magic in questions! I shared with Bryce that I worked hard to nudge my students through open-ended questions, rather than through specific directions or simple "yes/no" questions. I find this a challenging way to teach and so rewarding. Questions open up whole new avenues of exploration and allow children to think more deeply about things.

I really want the children to ask questions, to be curious. In recent weeks, we have had an "Animal Sharing" box.  One child brings a special animal toy from home and hides it in the box.  Classmates take turns asking questions, to see if they can guess what is inside the box.  We have been working on "What makes a good question?" and encouraging the children to build off of each other's answers.  This is difficult for the preschoolers to grasp. We often have simple questions, such as, "Is it a bird?," "Is it an elephant?" We are noticing, recently, many of the children's questions are growing more complex.  While still 'yes' or 'no,' the questions are more general, provide insight about the category of animal ("Does this animal swim?," or "Is this a very small animal?") rather than jumping immediately to specific animal guesses. 

Over time, through this sharing box ritual, we are all learning a lot more about the power of questions. 


  1. The future teachers of these students will thank you. Questioning is such a difficult skill for students to master, but you are giving them a great foundation.

  2. I've always loved Socrates...what a fun philosophy teacher- that way of doing a engaging....maybe we could write something like that for a slice ! I love ideas and questions. Excellent multi tasking today Maureen. xo

  3. I love the image that you created of your 17 year old son in a bed sheet in the living room (or kitchen) practicing his presentation and getting all excited about it. What a nice moment.

  4. Great idea. I may have to pass this along. :-)