(From Charlotte Danielson’s Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching-2nd Edition)
As we plan for instruction and work with students, we typically cite Bloom’s Taxonomy or tools such as the F&P Continuum when focusing on Component 3b. While Danielson also cites the importance of developing high-order questioning routines to promote thinking, she also states that the distinguished teacher focuses on two additional pieces: student-student dialog & student developed questions. In short, the distinguished teacher provides a forum for students to engage in purposeful talk.
Engaging our students in purposeful talk requires a great deal of planning and a great deal of flexibility. At a first glance this may sound contradictory, but consider some alternatives:
- Deep questions that few students are able to run with – This is not necessarily the product of poor planning, since we may have thoughtfully planned high-order questions for a particular lesson. Instead, this is where the modeling of discourse is essential.
- Rapid-fire, low level questioning – This typically requires little planning and is often improvised as we teach to make sure our students can recall basic facts. Danielson refers to this as “recitation style questioning” with the teacher mediating all questions, leading students towards predetermined conclusions.
The Role of Modeling: Most of our students do not come to us with the ability to navigate language. Therefore, we must establish (and model!) frameworks that support discussion “without ongoing teacher mediation.” In then end, all students will benefit from this – the ELL student who is just learning English; the student who has not had the benefit of “dinner table” conversations because mom works two jobs; or a timid student who may simply think it’s “not nice” to (respectfully) disagree with a point.
There are many frameworks available to support purposeful talk; however, below you will see one I recently found on Twitter. I like how concise this model is. It can be easily modeled via some authentic anchor charts and as a set of “I cans” to be posted anywhere in your classroom.
Image an Author’s Share that goes beyond the standard “I like how you…” response! Once a framework such as this is modeled and becomes part of “how learning is done” within our classrooms, both students and teacher will have a common vernacular to draw from and can flexibly navigate conversations across all content areas!
The Role of Planning: During a fantastic reader’s workshop presentation I attended, the speaker plainly stated: If a question has a correct or incorrect answer, we should not be asking it. While these types of questions certainly have a place as we assess students, what she was referring to was developing unanswerable questions to promote deep thinking and discourse. This will ensure that all students can interact and share without the stigma of “getting it wrong” (which is a tough pill to swallow for those high achievers who always just “want to know if they got the correct answer”).
Developing unanswerable questions takes a great deal of time and is best done in teams as we work with the curriculum and/or specific texts (this is a great topic for another edition of The Curriculum Corner); however, you will find some great examples to get us started below.
The first chart is aligned specifically to the F&P Continuum of Literacy Learning and the second is specifically designed for Mathematics. You will notice that as we move up both of these taxonomies, the questions are more about discourse and providing evidence for a personal position – not just recalling basic facts, but using them. This is how our students will demonstrate mastery of a concept and this is where we must lead them!
In short, Danielson provides critical attributes of a classroom environment that effectively addresses the elements of 3b and I have listed them below:
- Students initiate high-order questions, extend the conversation and invite comments from classmates throughout instructional dialog to ensure that all voices are heard.
- The teacher makes effective use of wait time, builds on student contributions and develops open-ended questions to promote student-centered dialog.
As always, feel free to share some bite-sized best practices you have developed that support student-centered questioning & discussion via The Curriculum Corner PLN. Click on the About the Author tab for social media links or share via the comments section below!
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