Creating a questioning classroom: an action research project with one year six class.
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff
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Questioning in the classroom has long been considered as the primary role of the class teacher and Hastings (2003) has suggested that on average teachers ask around 400 questions a day. However the aim of this action research study, carried out with my own Year 6 class within a Primary School in south Wales, was to readdress this balance and try to create a questioning classroom, one in which the children would become more actively involved in lessons by developing a range of questioning strategies and enhancing their critical thinking skills. The effectiveness of the class teacher's own questions was examined using lesson observations and video analysis, whilst the children's opinions of the new questioning strategies were assessed using questionnaires and the Leuven 'Child Involvement Scale'. The final phase of the study employed the thinking actively in a social context (TASC) wheel (Wallace, 2006), to help structure the development of the children's thinking skills and enable them to take charge of their own learning. A variety of techniques were employed throughout the study to ensure that both reliable and valid data was gathered, such as piloting, triangulation and the use of critical friends. It was found that the questions asked by the class teacher were not effective (too many low cognitive demand questions that did not allow children sufficient think time). However, this role dramatically altered by the end of the study and the teacher became a'facilitator of learning', bY talking less and listening more to the children as well as encouraging them to take ownership over their own learning. It was discovered that despite the 'whiteboards' technique proving to be the most popular among the children, it was the 'think-pair-share' technique that actually improved their level of involvement in lessons the most. Finally, the use of the TASC wheel proved to be extremely beneficial in aiding the children's development of critical thinking skills and truly enabled a questioning classroom to be created.
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