We don’t use technology in our lessons because we have to,. We don’t use technology because OFSTED says so. We use technology in our lessons because it helps students to maximise their learning potential, to allow creative opportunities for learning, which integrates differentiation and facilitates learning in the most meaningful way. Never mind being Outstanding, technology can give us the opportunity to go beyond this. With that in mind here are some great ways to integrate technology to facilitate questioning in lessons.
Too many lessons are teacher questioning focused. Never mind open/closed or directed/non directed. This is a false questioning dichotomy which you can move away from in a student led classroom. With technology you are able to allow students to take the lead and steer learning by making their questions known, shared and answered. In either a 1:1 or BYOD setting you are able to run a Padlet wall where students can post questions, which can in turn be answered by other students. This is excellent as you are encouraging collaboration, a B3 style approach, where instead of asking across the classroom, students are encouraged to answer question projected on the Padlet wall that have been posed by their classmates. You could appoint teams of question-answerers, the most able students, whose job it is to keep an eye on the board and ensure that progress in lesson is continuous through peer reflection and support. Another way of doing this would be to invite students to author on a Google document, and work collaboratively on writing questions that link to the topic being studied as a plenary or mini plenary as the lesson is on-going.
As a starter activity why not have students film their questions about the lesson after the learning objectives have been shared? You could use an app such as Vine or Videolicious, which is excellent in producing mini-video, and then play then to the class as a form of live ‘Thunks.” The way in which learners think about a topic they are new to is often surprising, and it is very interesting to see the topic framed in terms of their initial understanding. A mini-video will give you a great insight in to how to plan following lessons, as well as engaging the rest of the class as they take it in turns to be the star asking questions.
An equally interesting way of asking questions is to deprive learners of a visual input. We live in a very visually saturated world, and simple spoken questions can be very powerful. Ask them to close their eyes and simply listen. The recording could have been made by you, or them during a previous lesson, however audio content on its own can be very moving. Try using SoundCloud for this, as you can save it to use later, so as the trigger for plenary work, linked for example to mind mapping in something like bubble.us. Brilliant! I know you could simply read something to your class, but there is something really powerful about the ability use the children’s own voices to make them complicit in their learning.
Alternately, looking to the visual – many devices have a camera – why not have your learners make visual questions? Ask them to take photographs of what they would like to question and have them explain it to the class. This could either be done in real time, or could be facilitated by an app such as Explain Everything. This is an excellent opportunity to promote literacy skills, as children will have to write a script before hand which provides a proof-reading aspect to their written work, which will also develop their questioning ability.
In a very basic way, technology can provide a substitution to simply asking a teacher a question. However, to avoid simply turning to Google without QTS, I would recommend you ask learners to frame their questions relative to the style of thinking skill you are asking them to achieve. For example, including the word evaluate or analyse will find a very different type of material to an average Google search. Other apps such as Qwiki and websites such as http://www.goorulearning.org/ can help to give responses to help in the classroom and learners move forward in their understanding.
Hopefully this post will have got you thinking about how you can explore questioning in your lesson with students taking the lead too. I’d love to hear how you use technology to support questioning in your lessons in the comments.