The Socratic method is a well-known technique for driving classroom discussion. In this teaching method, teachers ask questions to spur students to critical thought rather than expecting students to learn passively from unengaging lectures. Effective curriculum planning incorporates principles such as the Socratic method to bring intriguing questions and student engagement into the classroom.
What Makes an Effective Classroom Question?
Classroom discussion questions should be open-ended to inspire multiple conversations from various points of view. They should encourage students to debate different ideas and ask follow-up questions. Effective classroom questions like this develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills as well as inspiring collaboration between students. A good question can show students that they can learn from each other, even when they disagree.
While all teachers must customize their discussion questions for each classroom, the general principles of curriculum planning apply universally to all classes. Teachers in subjects like reading and history might find it easier to ask discussion questions like Which major circumstances led to the Civil War? or What are the major themes of The Scarlet Letter? Teachers in other subjects, however, can also use effective curriculum planning to bring classroom questions to their lessons — What is the value of physics in everyday life?
How to Craft Your Classroom Questions
The coursework for an online master’s degree in education will include classes on curriculum theory and practice as well as human learning and how it relates to education. The principles in these courses can shape how teachers approach classroom discussion questions for particular classes. Enrolling in an online degree program is a proven means of strengthening teachers’ curriculum development and classroom management.
It is important to understand that developing classroom questions is an ongoing process; it is not a task teachers perform once and never revisit. Teachers should revise their questions over time as they fine-tune their lessons. As student discussion sparks new debate and new ideas, teachers can tweak the initial question from year to year to lead discussion in new directions. Students contribute to this revision process with their own response questions, offering teachers insight into the usefulness of each discussion plan.
Developing Questions Across Subjects
Teachers should also develop discussion questions that communicate broad concepts across a variety of subjects. By revising questions to cover themes instead of specific topics, teachers can demonstrate how their lessons offer broader applications than in only a specific class or exam. When possible, teachers can coordinate their curriculum planning with other teachers to include questions that benefit more than one classroom.
Effective classroom discussion questions can generate richer discussions for both teachers and students. Revising classroom questions can help teachers develop as instructors while meeting the ever-changing needs of their students. Teachers and students alike can benefit from the different perspectives that contribute to engaging classroom discussions.
Learn more about the LSUS M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction online program.
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