Getting Students To Ask Questions

Qs

Researchers understand that student questions can improve instruction and increase achievement, however, students rarely ask their own questions in school. When they do, they ask more memory questions involving knowledge recall than all other question types combined. Asking open-ended questions and research questions can be difficult for students because they don’t always have a large enough knowledge base on a subject to see relationships and big picture issues. My classroom experience has shown that if I use small groups to get students to generate their own questions about a topic, many groups rely on one or two participants and the other students are content to be passive observers. Similarly, when I try to have whole-class, student-led discussions only 38% to 60% of my students participate. This year, I have used Zaption so students view a short, instructional video and then are asked questions that demonstrate their understanding of the content. Zaption Tours are also helpful for helping students develop their own questions, driving independent research projects, and tapping into student motivation. Further, Zaption presents this data in tables or discussion board threads for easy teacher analysis. Discussion data also be download into Excel spreadsheets for further analysis.

Open?

Prior to beginning this unit on the WWII, I asked students two open-ended questions: What do you already know about the Holocaust? What do you want to know about the Holocaust? The Zaption Tour was viewed 287 times and 107 students replied to the question. To make it an easier reading experience, I edited spelling mistakes and typos, but did not edit the “heart” of the student question. I tried to eliminate similar questions.  My next steps will be grouping the questions into themes for additional reflection and analysis. At the very least, these questions indicate that students have thought deeply about the Holocaust and are eager to learn more about it.

  1. I want to know if the Holocaust was necessary and if it was good for the people back then.
  2. I would just like to be more knowledgeable about the Holocaust.
  3. What I’d like to know about the Holocaust was?  Who came up with idea?  What kind of movies there are to watch about the Holocaust?
  4. I want to learn if any groups or people tried to rebel over this power and try to support and help Jews.
  5. I would like to know why Jews didn’t fight back or resist because it seem as if the Germans just killed the Jews with ease.
  6. What I want to know is who put a stop to all Hitler’s terror and how did people just let him do that?
  7. What I would like to know is where did Hitler get all his ideas about a master race?
  8. The thing that I want to know about the Holocaust is why did Hitler believe that Germans were superior than any other race?
  9. I would want to learn how did Hitler persuade Germany’s citizens to use the Jews as scapegoats for their country problems?
  10. I think what I want to know about the Holocaust is why Hitler hated the Jews in the first place?
  11. I would like to know why the Nazis targeted the Jews first? Also what made the Nazis hate the Jews so much and how did they make all of Germany hate them as well?
  12. I would like to know how Hitler convinced Germans to let this happen and why the US didn’t intervene earlier?
  13. I want to know what Hitler thought he was going to get out of this genocide?  I want to know why the people in Germany were following Hitler even though they knew it was wrong?
  14. I want to know why Hitler thought he was going to get away with it?
  15. Why did Hitler feel the need to exterminate the Jews when his own mother was Jewish and he wasn’t an Aryan himself?
  16. Hitler hated the Jews… but why?
  17. I want to know why the US didn’t help.
  18. I would like to know who else was involved with the Holocaust other than Adolf Hitler.
  19. I would like to know why the other countries let this happen to innocent Jewish and other people.
  20. What I would like to learn about the Holocaust is how the public felt about it and how Americans reacted to it?
  21. I want to learn what the Jews did and how they acted in the camps.
  22. I would like to know more about what caused the Holocaust to start.
  23. I would like to know more in depth stories of some of the Jews who survived the Holocaust.
  24. I would like to learn about conspiracy theories and the psychology of why Hitler wanted to kill these people. Was it a mental illness, or was he simply racist?
  25. I would like to learn what went on inside the concentration camps.
  26. I want to know the stories about the Holocaust.
  27. Something I would really like to know about the holocaust is why Hitler wanted to get rid of an entire race, I understand that he detested Jews but why would he go for something like this?
  28. I’d like to know the in-depth stories of the Jews who survived the concentration camps.
  29. I know about the beginning, middle, and D-Day. I want to know about the ending of the war.
  30. I would want to know about how the German people reacted to the concentration camps.
  31. I would like to know why Hitler wanted more land
  32. What I want to know is how it really started and how it ended.
  33. What I want to know is how many survivors were there in total?
  34. I would like to know why Hitler hated them so much and how were people able to survive and I want to learn how it affected others besides the Jewish race.
  35. I would like to know why this event in history happened and why no one took any act on it.
  36. I want to learn more about what really caused everything, how it happened, during the process, just everything, people’s feelings, and etc. Even if it takes 15 video lectures and big projects. 🙂
  37. I’d like to know why kill the Jews if they did nothing to you?
  38. I really want to know why Hitler did it? Why does he hate Jews so much and why were people going along with it?
  39. I want to know why Hitler killed this many Jews and what did he accomplish in killing them?
  40. I want to know how some people around the camps felt, if they felt bad or not about the situation, I don’t know. I heard that some Jews would fight back like setting buildings on fire. I’d like to know more stuff like that.
  41. What I would want to know about the Holocaust is how close does the movie “The Boy In The Stripped Pajamas” come to teaching us the truth about the Holocaust?
  42. I would like to know what had started the hatred. Was it an experience Hitler had or what?
  43. I’d like to know more about peoples’ personal experiences and obviously I’d like to know more and more about this topic. This is a topic that I could love to learn a lot about.
  44. I would like to see inside the mind of the man who ran the terrible atrocity of human action, the Holocaust.
  45. What caused Hitler to decide to kill and torture Jewish people?
  46. I know that a lot of people died I want to know who started it and why
  47. What I’d like to know is why many states or countries tried nothing what so ever to help and why they just let 6 million lives be lost?
  48. I would like to know what would go on with the Germans who disagreed with the Nazis? Were there rebellions and anti-Nazi campaigns?
  49. Was the U.S using spies and if yes what would they do and what were some major accomplishments for them.
  50. I would like to learn new things like how did Hitler die, or why would other countries ignore something so important?
  51. I want to know what Hitler thought he was going to get out of this when it was all over. I want to know why he did it. I want to know way beyond what the book says.
  52. I would like to learn more about things that people or students hardly know. That would be helpful.
  53. What I would like to know about the Holocaust is more about people’s reactions to life in the concentration camps and how people managed to get out. Did they recover and have good times later in life?

One thought on “Getting Students To Ask Questions”

  1. Scott, you *have* to check out Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana, co-founders of the Right Question Institute. If you go to rightquestion.org, they have a ton of resources. Shorter articles on their Question Formulation Technique can be found in Educational Leadership. I also recommend checking out Dan Rothstein’s TED Talk, Was Socrates Right?

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