Questioning and Critical Thinking



This is a page from an Elmo book in which a cutout figure of Elmo can be inserted into various settings such as a bakery. In lieu of reading the book I asked my 4 1/2 year old son questions about each setting, e.g. “what is Elmo now?”

The questioning approach I used was to ask open-ended questions and follow up or leading questions, e.g.¬†“how do you know he’s a baker?” This approach works at all ages but is probably more common at earlier ages. What I have found is that students progress through school learning that math questions are typically right or wrong with little critical thinking. Students are afraid to answer questions because it’s all or nothing. On another post I address how we can shape critical thinking and this questioning is another approach.

I have a video showing this questioning of my son on youtube.

Science Fair Project

Science Fair Project

I once had a 7th grade student with asperger’s who tested at a 1st grade or kindergarten reading and math level. I helped guide him through his science fair project. I asked him what he was interested in. He replied “growing flowers.” I asked what helps make flowers grow. He responded with water and sunlight. From there I guided him and asked leading questions for his project on photosynthesis. He collected real data and supported his hypothesis. By the end he could explain the process of photosynthesis. This is his project board and he won at the school level and went to the district competition! This is perhaps my most rewarding experience as a teacher.

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