I can tell I'm way too obsessed with reading all these education blogs because I'm sad that I'm going to get so behind on reading about everyone's classrooms and lives.
Have a good two weeks.
/* open id delegation ---------------------------------------------- */
I like thinking about and enacting beneficial educational experiences. I also like to write. Here we have a place for my two interests to coexist.
Some of the reading I have been doing for my education class lately has made me think about the great importance of learning how to ask the right questions. Of all the qualities that a teacher must have, I think that being able to use question asking as a type of scaffolding or participation in students' ZPDs is one of the most difficult to refine, but most important to eventually achieve.
I don't even know if calling it scaffolding is quite the right way to describe it. I certainly don't want to control my students' thoughts through the use of question-asking. I want to guide them so that they can articulate, either in words or in writing, what it is that they are thinking or feeling.
As the author of the book I am reading (the book is called ...And with a Light T0uch ) describes certain things she does in the classroom and conversations she has with her students, I am just kind of flabbergasted. She seems to make every word she utters important, every question she asks helps her students develop as readers, writers, talkers, and people. As my professor pointed out, the author of this book has been teaching for 20+ years and has done a lot of personal classroom research, so of course she's going to be good. But still, reading this book kind of makes me feel jealous of her. I want to be that good.
Before reading this book, and being asked to think about the things this book has made me think about, I knew question asking was important. Of course I know that I am supposed to ask open-ended "higher level thinking" questions. Reading this book and seeing the ways the teacher uses questions makes me put that rote knowledge into a different frame of mind. The questions she asks aren't created ahead of time to direct the students' learning. The questions she asks are based off of what the students have chosen to talk about in class. She creates the questions on the spot in response to what has been going on in the classroom. The students lead the topic, not the teacher. The teacher in this case works to make the students think more deeply than they perhaps would have, had they not been asked these other questions. But she never leads them in a direction. She never forces them to think about something they don't want to think about. The questions she asks are not directive, they are exploratory.
I have noticed that one of my professors asks questions like these. She seems to intuitively know what to ask me to make me articulate whatever idea I have started to develop in my mind. After I say something she will ask, "What makes you think that?" She somehow manages to hone in on whatever aspect of the reading I want to talk about, but haven't developed fully enough in my thoughts to feel comfortable sharing with the class. When that happens, she asks questions that allow my thoughts to become coherent to myself. She's not directing me toward her thinking; she is guiding me so that I better understand my own thinking.
I think the ability to ask questions like the author of the book and like my professor is a skill that must be developed. At first, I was going to say that I thought it was a gift, but that's not true. I don't think it is something you either have or you don't have. It is a quality that you can possess after time, effort, and experience. Some people may become better at asking questions after shorter periods of times, while for others it may take longer. But if you want to be able to ask the right questions, you will be able to. At least, I want to believe that with enough effort and self-monitoring of the ways I use talk in my classroom, I too will develop into someone who can ask questions that help my students grow into complex thinkers.
I have had a busy week, and I have a couple ides of things I want to post. Hopefully this weekend I will get a chance to write them down.
In the meantime, The Reflective Teacher tagged me...quite a while ago with this meme. I have finally finished it. (Apparently, I have a hard time counting all the way to four.)
4 Jobs I've Had
4 Movies I can Watch Over and Over (I don't really like movies very much. I don't feel that I can really know the characters well enough in just the 2 hours or so of the film. I like TV shows better.)
4 Places I've Lived (I only have two!)
4 TV Shows
4 Places I've Vacationed
4 Places I Plan to Visit
4 Favorite Foods (I think I have a warped sense of food, as a college student surviving off dining hall food.)
4 Blogs I Read Daily (or places I visit online)
4 Places I'd Rather Be Right Now