I’m getting my students ready for my final right now, which has a substantial reading component to it. I take excerpts from the readings we have generated over the course of the quarter and then ask two or three questions per paragraph (with the questions in German).
When I did this on my midterm I noticed that some students struggled understanding the questions, so the past few days in conjunction with my readings I’ve listed the question words along the top of my board: What? How? Why? Where? When? Who? After reading about half of the selection, I assign one question word to each group and have them write a question using that word on the board that deals with what we just read. I have to help some groups phrase their questions (a lot of people want to say the “do you” part of “do you go” that doesn’t exist in German), but several can do it on their own.
I did this initially to give people more attentive practice using the words, but the nice benefit of this is that my students ask pretty good questions. Some people play it safe and ask easy questions, while others extrapolate beyond the reading and ask why characters do certain things, etc. Basically some of my students are just walking up the Bloom’s taxonomy order without my prompting, and we’re getting some great discussions going based on this. Actually, I think I’ll actually teach my III/IV group about Bloom’s Taxonomy and practice asking different questions of each level so as to accelerate this process a bit.
File this under varying the routine, but I enjoy being able to turn the questioning of the novel over to my students. That’s supposed to be my job, right? Not really. I’m looking forward to extending this a bit with my upper level students and having them write questions about the text on the board without the stiff categories of “covering all the words.” I’m noticing that my upper level classes are taking ownership of the questions, and as a result we get better discussions.
Call it the law of unintended consequences, but sometimes the best techniques just develop organically.