The ideal conversation, of course, prompts children to both think and respond:
Teacher: Why did you decide to put the triangle-shaped block on top?
Child: So it can be the roof.
Teacher: What might happen if you didn’t have a block on top?
Child: Then the rain might come in.
Teacher: How else could you keep the rain out?
Child: With an umbrella.
Teacher: How would that work?
Unfortunately, I notice when I’m with children that while I tend to ask a lot of questions, they’re not always open-ended. I really have to work to broaden my repertoire of questions and be quite intentional about asking questions that encourage children to come up with their own ideas and put those ideas into words (and not just answer yes/no or with a “correct” response such as “yellow” or “pig”).
So, how can we remember to ask these kinds of broad, thought-provoking questions?
Many thanks to MMCI instructors Kathy McKechnie and Nancy Walsh for sharing their wonderful ideas! Any errors or misinterpretations in them are my own (not theirs), as I modified them to fit the format.
For more teacher tips, you can read my previous blog post Teacher Tips: Engaging Children in Conversations.
When teachers hear CLASS tool, often the first thought that comes to their mind is asking children open-ended questions. And while asking “how” and “why” questions is extremely important in helping to foster and support language and concept development, we cannot have effective interactions with these questions alone. There is so much more to the CLASS tool!
Are you a teacher who recently had a CLASS observer come to your classroom? Maybe the observer mentioned something about giving you your CLASS scores—or maybe you aren’t sure when or how you’ll get feedback from the observation. If that recently happened to you, you might have typed something into Google like, “What are CLASS scores?” Not to fear. I hope this blog post clears it up for you!