Scaffolded Questioning

Feb 14, 2017 | by Janice Smith

Two things I think about a lot when observing teachers and classrooms are 1) Ratio and 2) Questioning.  Ultimately, a lot of other techniques we look at related to classroom management, systems & routines, and even building relationships with students and families are all ways to help us maximize instructional time in our classroom, and student investment in the instruction given during that time.  And when it comes to instruction time, the things I’m often thinking about are:

  • How much of the work are students doing for how much of the lesson?
  • How is our questioning push them to think critically and master content at levels higher than just knowledge and recall?

Getting students to do the work while at the same time leading and facilitating a lesson can be a tricky balance, and there are so many moments where we can easily lapse back into a place where we pick up the load.  One of these times is when students ask for help during guided practice.  You’re circulating the room, looking over their shoulders to see how they’re doing and what misconceptions they may have from the lesson, and before you know it hands are popping up.  This often happens when the work gets more challenging, and often (atleast I found in my own classroom) they were hoping their over-eager teacher would come over and essentially walk them through the problem by doing the work.

This is such a valuable place to use strategic, and scaffolded, questioning to ensure that they are still doing the work, while providing them necessary support while they’re working towards mastery.  Check out what Mr. Truong does in that moment below…

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