Getting students to ask questions..


This is my first post here! A fellow colleague of mine shared this video with me. My first thought was “I could use this with my kids for inquiry!”

Just so that everyone understand my context here in Singapore, a lot of teaching is done through direct instruction. Students are used to being given answers rather than to ask questions. So I have tried very hard to start them asking questions.

I am in the process of modelling inquiry with my kids by asking them to ask a few questions a day (or maybe we could start by a week). I was a bit disappointed that none of them had questions they wanted to ask passionately. I know Singapore is not going to produce any major inventor anytime soon, but if no one asks questions, they won’t be many for sure.

So I hope this video could be a starter for my students. They can get questions from their daily play or from a youtube video a friend shared. Hopefully at the end of the week, we can decide which questions to tinker with.

Anyway, here are my questions after watching the video:

1. How does putting a bottle make it any brighter than simply cutting a hole in the roof?(you cover it with a transparent material to keep out the rain of course)

2. What is the bleach for?

3. How does this link to reflection and refraction (well I teach this, so it must be good to make some connections)?

If all goes to plan I really want to model the process of inquiry. I hope to look at a few questions, search for answers on the internet, paraphrase some of these answers to get my head around it and then generate many more questions. I want to show my students I do not know all the answers and neither should they expect to.

About onnster

A Physics teacher in Singapore teaching 13-16 years old. Interested in inquiry and am convinced it is the way to go..
This entry was posted in Inquiry. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Getting students to ask questions..

  1. whatedsaid says:

    Hi Lawrence

    Thanks for your first post. Can you put something about yourself in your wordpress bio so that when people click on ‘onnster’ they can see who you are?

    Have you used the Project Zero thinking routines to help get kids asking questions. So for instance you could use ‘See Think Wonder’ after you showed this video. First ask them to describe what they see (in detail). Then ask what it makes them think (all answers are acceptable!) And finally get them to write down something it makes them wonder… this should bring out some questions!

    The PZ Visible Thinking website is here.



    • onnster says:

      Hi Edna,

      thanks a lot for the tip. I visited the website and I saw this Question Starts routine with:
      Why, What are the reasons, what if, what is the purpose of, how would it be different if,..suppose that.., what would change if..? Have you used this routine before? I was asking because the questions seem to overlap.. Let me try it out and I will share with you the results. The routine you shared is for observation and seems simpler though. Thanks once again.


  2. Miranda says:

    We have tried this with our older students- it’s a little prescriptive but its a good routine to start indulging kids questions and helping them become more responsible for their learning.


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