Day 8: What was the question again? #AprilBlogADay Challenge

Prompt 8: How should we foster question asking instead of answer getting?

I struggle with this.  Not in my design of challenging and rigorous questions to provoke higher level thinking but with the engagement of students in deeper thinking an questioning of each other and of the material....

I thought about this a lot today.  Here is what I came to:  in order to ask great questions, and engage in discussion means you have to LISTEN.  What I have seen my students do is this: they sit, they not, they can't really engage in discussion because they are NOT LISTENING. 

I did an exercise one day- having set a goal that I wanted my AP students to really work on note taking skills that they will need in the college classroom- I had showed them a brief 4 minute video on feminism.  There was a lot of information and the presenter spoke quickly, rattling off facts and figures interspersed with some humor and reflection.  The first time I showed them the video none of them took notes.  They watched passively, enjoying the video and laughing from time to time.  The following class I asked, "How many of you think you could pass a quiz about the video you watched on Monday?" A few, maybe 5 raised their hands.  "How many people took notes during the video?" Two kid's hands went up.  I knew I had missed the boat on this one.  It was a skill I should have been building in from day one.  Not just taking notes from lecture but from reading, class discussions, videos, reading homework!  These are the skills they are going to need to be successful in college.  Copious notes to digest, process, reflect, ask questions, thinking critically.

It's not a natural skill- it is something to be cultivated over time.  Accountable talk is great (and the prompts that we get students to use) but I need to do more to help kids develop the ability to listen, really HEAR and critically engage. 


  1. Great insights! I also feel like I am letting my students down with not teaching them note taking skills like I should. I favor fill-in-the-blank notes, but I have had some students tell me they only pay attention when there is a blank. They don't write in extra information. I don't remember learning note taking, but I love taking notes - and writing additional notes on handouts. How do we foster this in our students?

    1. Janelle, YES! This is one of my big goals for next year as I teach AP for the second time. I credit my 11th grade U.S. History teacher for "teaching" me to take notes. He introduced me to the word COPIUS and he spoke fast, really fast. I had to take notes: AMAP and A-FAST-AP. It served me well. I think kid brain has changed so much in the 20 years since I was in high school (thank you cell phones and video games!). So what worked for me isn't the same thing. I would love to talk more with our #AprilBlogADay family about how they are doing these instructional shifts.


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