Work Smarter, Not Harder! Using Open-Ended Questions In The Classroom
May 16, 2014 Teaching 2969 Views
Work smarter, not harder! How, you ask, with all of the added demands and expectations of differentiation that the educational world is now placing upon teachers? In this article, I offer one simple solution to help educators work smarter with the time that they have: open-ended question asking.
The open-ended question format is a natural answer for how to differentiate in the classroom! Instead of giving students the question all the time, give them the answer and have them become the teacher! I use this type of question in several ways. Sometimes it is a part of my launch for a workshop session, other times it is a part of the partner work that I expect my students to complete, and yet other times I use this type of question as an "exit" ticket for an informal formative assessment check.
In math class for example, you might ask the following:
"The answer is 10. What is the question?"
Imagine the power of working with this type of problem in your classroom, whether it is kindergarten all the way through high school. The level of the "question" that you receive from students will drastically change depending on their schema and mathematical capabilities. No more finding 6 different types of problems/worksheets/lesson plans for students who are at different levels in their mathematical thinking.
Oh my goodness! There are so many possible questions! This technique allows students to pick their "just-right" math level and "answer" the "question" accordingly.
Some possible solutions are:
1. What is 6+4?
2. What is (2x10)-10?
3. What is (3x10)-20?
4. There are 3 animals in the north end of the zoo out in the cold. If there are 7 animals in the south end out in the cold, how many total animals are outside?
There are so many more options to this type of problem. I use these all the time and I really feel that I can understand my students better;along with where they stand in their mathematical thinking.
The other beauty of this type of problem is that the format can be adapted to any subject area!
Possible social studies questions:
1. The answer is California. What is the question?
2. The answer is Northwest. What is the question?
3. The answer is France. What is the question?
4. The answer is 1492. What is the question?
5. The answer is Alexander the Great. What is the question?
Possible ELA questions:
1. The answer is an exclamation point. What is the question?
2. The answer is Opal Buloni. What is the question?
3. The answer is Harper Lee. What is the question?
4. The answer is a hot and steamy courtroom. What is the question?
5. The answer is the Joads basic instinct for survival. What is the question?
Possible Science questions:
1. The answer is the nucleus. What is the question?
2. The answer is an insect. What is the question?
3. The answer is solar energy. What is the question?
4. The answer is white light. What is the question?
5. The answer is granite. What is the question?
How will you use open-ended questions in your classroom?