The Power of Questioning: Guiding Student Investigations

“Children are full of questions every day: “Why? How does that work? Why? How do you know?” The science classroom is the perfect place to take advantage of this natural curiosity. Questioning cultivates student engagement and drives instruction throughout the learning process.”

questioningThis introduction to NSTA Press authors’, Julie McGough and Lisa Nyberg, new book The Power of Questioning: Guiding Student Investigations sets the stage for their model, Powerful Practices. The model takes questioning in the K–6 classroom to a new level while emphasizing the interconnected nature of instruction. Instead of having your students look for the answer, you allow them to raise other questions as they investigate the topic further.

This pedagogical picture book is color-coded to indicate the three components of the instructional model:

Questioning is printed in red.
Investigations are printed in blue.
Assessments are printed in purple.

These three aspects are linked, and it is important not to approach the model in a linear fashion. As the authors explain, “when thoughtful questioning is combined with engaging investigations, amazing assessments are produced—just as when red and blue are combined, purple is produced.”

Involving students in the Powerful Practices model requires that you know your students as individuals—each student’s way of understanding the world and way of participating in discussion—and as a group. This will help you create engaging questions and a collaborative environment that supports dynamic discussions, leading to purposeful learning that is applicable to the child’s world.

In the book, the authors ask and answer many questions themselves as they present the model:

Connecting Questions and Learning

  • Why is questioning a powerful learning tool?
  • Why is questioning important when linking literacy to learning investigations and authentic performance assessments?
  • Why does skill in questioning engage students in purposeful standards-based learning?

Developing Questioning Strategies

  • What types of questions do I need to ask, and when should I ask them?
  • What is wait time?
  • What is Depth of Knowledge?

Engaging Students and Teachers

  • How do I prepare for the Power of Questioning?
  • Who are my students, and how do they think?
  • How do I provide opportunities for all students to participate?

Building a Questioning Environment

  • How do I build a collaborative learning community to support questioning?
  • How do I organize resources to engage all learners?

Engaging in Purposeful Discussion

  • How do I implement the Power of Questioning?
  • How do I use questioning to engage students in purposeful discussions?
  • How do I connect discussions within a unit of study?
  • How does questioning create opportunities that lead to deeper investigations and authentic assessments?

The authors provide links and QR codes to videos and audio recordings related to content throughout the book. The first book in a new series, Powerful Practices, this book is also available as an e-book.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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