info@jonbergmann.com

Why Flipped Learning Improves a Teacher’s Questioning Skills

Questioning and interacting with students in class is an art. Sometimes a teacher needs to give a student lots of individual help, and other times they need to back off and let the student struggle. Knowing when to help and when to hold back is a constant balancing act that all teachers must face.

This balancing act is especially difficult when speaking to a classroom filled with students of varied abilities. When a teacher presents to the whole group, some students need extra help while others need less. When working with an entire class, it is extremely hard to differentiate and meet the needs of each student.

The problem I had before I flipped my classroom, is that I would teach one lesson a day to my entire classroom. Although I might teach the same lesson two or three times on that day, I only had one chance to practice how to ask quality questions for that lesson in a given year.  

Enter the flipped classroom where whole group presentation typically happens before class via a short micro-video (flipped video). Class time is then reformed into a place where students work in small groups engaging in hands-on activities, or doing projects.  Since much of class time was devoted to me moving from group to group helping students, I found that instead of having one opportunity to ask questions for each lesson, I was able to have many chances to engage with students on the same topic in a given year. I had more opportunities to practice questioning strategies. And more importantly, I was able to differentiate my questions based on the individual needs of each student. For the students who struggled, I spent more time guiding them and assisting them. For the advanced students, I often held back and left them to grapple on their own.

Once the students had gotten the essential understanding, I was able to probe more and challenge each student to the appropriate level of rigor. Advanced students went further, and struggling students received the help they needed.

Our goal as educators is not just to impart knowledge, but rather to help students become problem solvers who can think deeply. One way to move to deeper levels of understanding is to develop better questioning strategies with students. If you adopt flipped learning in your classroom, you will find that your questioning strategies will improve, and your students will benefit greatly.

If you are implementing the flipped classroom model in your class, how have you found your questioning strategies improving? Do you have any strategies that you have found which have helped you become a better questioner?