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Back-to-School Tip: Ask Questions

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A new classroom, a new subject, a new teacher, and a new peer group— many of your students are experiencing quite a bit of “new” at the start of the school year. Before students will actively engage in your class, they must feel a connection. One of the best ways to help students connect is through creative questions. A fun blend of questions can be a wonderful way to draw students into your classroom. Consider asking one or more of these questions at the beginning of class. If the students seem interested, have them group up and share their ideas in smaller groups.

The Silly: A series of silly or imaginative questions can make students smile and warm up to you and to your class. Consider the following options and reframe them for your discipline:

  1. Which character in any book or movie would you love to be?
  2. If you could be a king or queen, which country would you like to rule?
  3. If you could be a wild animal for one hour, which would you choose?
  4. What kinds of events happen at your “dream” birthday party?
  5. You just won $10 million in the lottery. What is your first purchase?
  6. Would you rather fly high into space or swim deep into the ocean?
  7. If you had to change the way your sneeze sounds, would you prefer it to sound more like a lion roaring, Darth Vader breathing, or a dolphin squeaking?

The Substantial: A substantial question draws out a deeper thought or a meaningful conviction. Answering these questions may require some level of trust, and they may lead to a deeper connection with a student.

  1. If you did not have to be in school today, what would you do?
  2. Who is someone you consider heroic?
  3. Which character in any book or movie do you consider the evilest or villainous?
  4. What do you think is one of the greatest problems in our world today?
  5. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
  6. If you could travel back in time, who would you want to meet?
  7. What is one thing that you most regret buying?

Creative questions at the beginning of class might make your students laugh or turn red, but they also have the potential of drawing your students into deeper engagement. Social scientists claim that we cannot learn until the right questions are asked. Simply put, questions create a folder-type index in our minds, allowing us to store and retain information in an organized way. Without questions, the information we receive can be more easily forgotten.

Even a silly question can serve as a gateway to more profound discussions. If students learn to enjoy answering questions, they will begin to formulate their own. If you regularly weave these kinds of personal questions into a class session, students will begin to anticipate them and look forward to the fun connection they form with you and the other students in the class.

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