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January 31, 2008

Questions and Comments

Questions and comments are an important part of our class--and let me tell you, there are many to be had!  It seems that when gathered in a group setting, all my students want to do is talk, talk, and talk! Now, I don’t mean to imply that they don’t have beneficial things to share but sometimes I feel like we could sit in circle time all day entertaining questions and listening to stories. I decided early in my teaching career that I needed to help my students learn how, when and why to ask questions and provide comments!

Here are some of the strategies I use to moderate my class:

- Periodically, we discuss question words and what it means to have a question. We make a list of words that signal a question: what, which, who, why, among others. I reiterate that a question means you want to know something or you are not sure what to do.

- I encourage students to save their questions and comments until someone is done talking, reading or singing. Sometimes I write down their name or idea so we can come back to it later.

- After a student makes a comment or asks a question, I help them learn the difference between the two by thanking them for their “comment” or their “question.”

- Once a month students can bring in a sharing item from home. We split into small groups and each child is able to share their item.  They tell what they brought and why.  We follow this by allowing three questions or comments from the group and end with “Thank you for sharing!”

- Once or twice a week, we pass a "sharing stick" to share our favorite food, color, animal, etc. We practice taking turns talking and listening for things we have in common.

- Our snack time often has a guiding question or topic. The adults in our room sit at each table and help guide the discussion to ensure that each student gets a chance to share.

Trust me it is not a lesson learned in one sitting…but I must say that we have made improvements this year! Just the other day at snack Ryan mentioned, "Don't you remember? I had a comment to save until snack!"

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