strategies to improve your teaching

3 questioning strategies to improve your teaching and workload

Questioning and teacher scripts have immeasurable benefits as an assessment tool. They can help with retention, behaviour and self-regulation, not to mention the long-term impact on teacher workload both in and out of the classroom.

What’s more, dialogue in class can help students activate hard thinking, enabling them to elaborate on themes and topics:

“One way for students to shoulder the responsibility for learning is for them to be the readers, writers, speakers, listeners, and thinkers in the classroom through active engagement in social interaction with others,” (Alvermann & Phelps, 2005; Vacca, Vacca, & Mraz, 2011).

But how can you effectively apply and achieve this yourself? Here’s 3 strategies to explore.


‘Think-Pair-Share’ is a well-known strategy that many teachers use in the classroom. But how can you use it more productively?

Start by making sure students thoroughly and thoughtfully consider the question you’re asking. This can be difficult to decipher, especially as students could be sitting, standing, talking aloud or sitting quietly.

To combat this uncertainty, ask your students to write down their responses on paper before sharing their answer with you or another student. It might sound simple, but this is an incredibly easy and effective way to ensure students have thought about the question.

If pupils then respond to your answer out loud, this has the potential to boost retrieval from their long-term memory too.

Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce

With this strategy, teachers must instil questioning behaviours to ensure the desired response. For example:

  • Hands down
  • Hands up
  • ‘What is [the answer to] X?’ followed by a pupil’s name.

As soon as students understand the questioning methodology being used, the teacher should ‘pause’ to allow for thinking time. The reason why is because students need time to reflect on what’s been asked, process the question and help reduce cognitive load.

With the ‘pounce’, insist the answer to the question comes from the student directly and fast. Wait for an answer and decipher the support needed if no response is evidently on its way.

After that student has responded, you can ‘bounce’ to another and ask for their opinion on the original answer. This ensures the teacher is engaging a significant number of students with the question at hand.

No Opt Out

When posing questions to an entire class, you’ll want the response rate to be high. But by asking all pupils to keep their hands down and be ready to prvide a response, some students will automatically opt-out because the language used subconsciously allows this to happen.

To avoid this, a sense of rigour must be instilled in the classroom. Students must know that if they do not know the answer, or refuse to offer a response, the teacher will then navigate around the classroom and eventually come back to the original pupil to articulate a response.

After all, saying something out loud is a positive act of retrieval that will benefit the long-term memories of your entire class, not just individual students.

Comments for this post are closed.