5 Powerful Questions

Monday, September 29, 2014

     Edutopia had a great blog post about asking simple questions that can get deeper responses from our students.  Here is a link to the complete article by Rebecca Alber.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

#1. What do you think?

This question interrupts us from telling too much. There is a place for direct instruction where we give students information yet we need to always strive to balance this with plenty of opportunities for students to make sense of and apply that new information using their schemata and understanding.

#2. Why do you think that?

After students share what they think, this follow-up question pushes them to provide reasoning for their thinking.

#3. How do you know this?

When this question is asked, students can make connections to their ideas and thoughts with things they've experienced, read, and have seen.

#4. Can you tell me more?

This question can inspire students to extend their thinking and share further evidence for their ideas.

#5. What questions do you still have?

This allows students to offer up questions they have about the information, ideas or the evidence.

Simple Questions for great responses.  Perfect!
When I thought a little more, though, I realized that those simple questions do not have to be just for the students to answer.  So often I have conversations with teachers about what they "need" to do.  Somewhere, somehow, our classrooms can become run not by the students and their needs, but by the fear of pleasing others.  
So, I ask you, as the teacher...

What do you think?

Why do you think that?

How do you know this?

Can you tell me more?

What questions do you still have?

I have one more that I would like to ask, though.  Here is one that could work with the students, too, but it might be harder for them.  Here goes:

Is it reasonable? (or, restated... Could it be possible?)

We make so many excuses every day.  Just today, I made excuses about going to the park because it was TOO HOT.  Here we are, at the beginning of October with an 80 degree day, and I told my son and daughter that it was TOO HOT.  Shame on me.  It was totally possible.  But I was tired, and was exhausted.  It was easier to say "no."  It should have been possible.  

Reflective Vs Responsive

Saturday, September 20, 2014

     Here we are, gathered together on the internet again, this time at Responsive Literacy (rather than Hiawatha Literacy for Teachers).  To be honest, I have a google site that is also named Hiawatha Literacy, and there was just too much confusion about which one I was referring two with both being named the same thing.  So, it was time to make a change.

     I have always said that I am a reflective teacher.  I almost reflect too much, in fact.  It seems like every decision I make I feel I need to justify or apologize for, or even blog about.  I think too much.  So I  looked up the word reflect recently in the dictionary, and the above definition was what I found.  The first part of the definition, "to throw back heat, light, or sound without absorbing it," confused me a little.  How does that definition make any sense?  When I reflect on the choices I make, I most certainly absorb them.  I suppose it is the 2nd part of the definition that I was expecting, "to think deeply or carefully about" something.

     Upon deeper reflection, perhaps both parts are indeed needed.  While the first part refers to seeing yourself in the mirror, or reflected on the water at a lake, it is true that those things do not become part of who we are.  They are merely just allowing us to see things from a different perspective.  Perhaps we need to see those reflections of the things that are actually there before we can think really deeply about anything. 

     Why the reason for these deep thoughts?  Well, I can't name my blog Reflective Literacy if part of that means to just bounce something back.  Plus, maybe I need to do more than be reflective about literacy.  Perhaps it is time to put those reflections into ACTION.

     Responsive, by definition, means:

     That's what I want to be!!!  Responsive!!!

I want to not only reflect, but do something about it in a timely manner.  (That can be a big weakness of mine...)
I want to be positive with my actions.
I want to answer the needs that others have, not just add to them.
I want to be responsive, in both my literacy coaching, but also with my family.

      So, welcome to Responsive Literacy!  If you previously bookmarked my blog, please change the address because I have found a new name!