Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Common Core, Common Language: Reforming Instructional Questioning

Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Common Core, Common Language: Reforming Instructional Questioning

Article excerpt

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects have necessitated reforms that include a shift in instructional strategies, including those related to questioning. Teachers must utilize questioning in the classroom that focuses on common language for curricular development and instructional purposes. Yet, the types of questions that teachers have learned in their respective teacher-preparation programs may not necessarily align with the CCSS, with different academic terms used in each content area. As a result, teachers may be confused by the various terms used to define questioning types and the overlaps that exist. In this article, the authors present an instructional grid for questioning that is streamlined to include common language supported by the CCSS for ELA/Literacy and can facilitate teachers' development of questions across the curriculum.

A teacher is introducing a science lesson about dinosaurs and encouraging the students to consider theories as to why the creatures became extinct. What types of questions does this teacher ask? Now imagine that the same teacher is asking the children to make predictions about dinosaurs during a reading activity on the same day. How can this teacher generate questions and make connections across content areas-i.e., in both science and language arts-in an effort to address the new common core standards?

Common Core State Standards: What Do They Demand?

According to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts (ELA) and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (http://www. corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/), all teachers are expected to teach reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language in their respective disciplines. This interdisciplinary approach is needed so that students acquire the necessary "literacy skills and understandings required for college and career readiness in multiple disciplines" (National Governors' Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers [NGA/CCSSO], 2010, p. 3). The CCSS provide the structure for teachers to integrate explicit, meaningful, and thoughtful questioning across the content areas.

Based on our research and experiences working with preservice and inservice teachers, we have found that questioning is one of the strategies underlying instruction that challenges most teachers. Faced with the difficult task of planning curriculum that aligns with the CCSS for ELA/Literacy, teachers are challenged to deliver instruction that includes effective questioning to advance students' knowledge of subject matter. Yet, the types of questioning that they have learned in their respective teacher-preparation programs may not necessarily align with the CCSS because different academic terms are employed in each content area (e.g., convergent in science and literal in ELA and social studies). As a result, teachers may be confused by the various terms used to define types of questioning and the overlaps that exist. The question we address in this article is how can we align all these different terms so that teachers implementing the CCSS can understand if their questioning in a given content area aligns with the CCSS?

Connecting Questions to the Common Core State Standards

As teachers refocus their attention to their skills in questioning, they are simultaneously trying to understand and incorporate the CCSS for ELA/Literacy into lesson planning. Preservice and often inservice teachers are asked to intensify their questioning skills to improve student understanding, incorporate common core standards, and help students make interdisciplinary connections. They need to learn how to generate questions as well as how to ensure that their questions reflect the core knowledge needed by the student learners. Quality instruction does not mean simply asking the question; it means asking the right type of question. …

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