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Questions And Questioning


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Hi everyone,

Just wondering whilst placing my medium term plans together - has anyone ever come across a resource bank/ modelling of good questioning? Fundimental in our trade I know and a skill that is wisely developed.

Apart from the obvious (how,what,where, when & why questions) - anyone lead me to some good web sites or literature?

In reflection - how do you get children to ask questions? xD

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You've hit the nail on the head there, skylight.

Children often find actually asking a question difficult and it is a skill that can be developed within your speaking and listening activities (Memo to brain to add to my plans!). It does need to be broken down quite carefully, just as children find it difficult to retain what they are thinking and not shout out, they need to use the information they have to find out more.

You can play simple describing games, put an object in a bag and describe it etc.

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We introduce question asking during show and tell ( preschool). This is modelled a lot by the adult ie: Tom shows everyone a new toy, adult asks if anyone has a question for him, they are prompted by adult asking questions in 'silent' gaps.

Takes a while but some children cotton on to the idea and ask very interesting questions, mainly 'what', 'where' 'when' and 'do' about 'actions'.

ie: where do you keep it? Do you play with it all the time? Does it go fast?

 

Peggy

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A nice activity Peggy. Year 6 used to love doing that. They didn't always show things, but they always asked if they could tell things. I'll never forget the girl who told everyone about the New Years Eve party at her house....

 

The children were meant to be in bed but were at the top of the stairs. The dads stood behind a partition with 'parts' of their bodies showing, and the mums had to identify their husbands!!!!!!!!!!

 

This certainly was a good stimulus for further questioning :D

Edited by Guest
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best activity we have ever had ongoing for developing questioning is teddy who goes home with different child each night - child gets opportunity to tell group what teddy got up to the next day and children can ask questions to find out more - always at first children find it really difficult to phrase a question but the motivation of wanting to know what teddy got up to ensures they get it in the end.

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Guest Wolfie

I think that's a very good point nsunshine - the best questions will come when the children are really interested in the subject matter and finding out the answers. Think of all the questions that they ask you at home about things that really interest them!

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I agree with you all and slightly bemused by the identification of body parts!

I'd like to introduce a 'show & tell' time, but have yet to master how to timetable to keep whole class input/ carpet time to 10-15 mins! The day is so packed already & I never seem to cover the lot (don't think I'm alone there!)

We have a Teddy that goes home with a journal. I'll adapt your suggestion before reading the journal/ see how it goes.

 

The sort of 'questioning' I was really refering to is more embedded in children's independant activities etc. They are very good at resolving, investigating and trying out a varitety of activities on a practical level.... but that jump to becoming more vocal and inquisitive, sharing their curiousity etc. The obvious is that they are engaged and interested in what they are doing.

At present the curriculum I am teaching and/or teaching 'practice' in the classroom is quite guided. I value the time when children can follow their own leads & interests, and although the school I work for has idealogies of a 'play- based' curriculum, in practise I struggle to balance the requirements set upon me and early years curriculum.

Try to make activities interesting and diverse!

 

So ..... as practitioners.... do you think we model and ask too many questions giving or pre-empting the need for children to ask them themselves? .... At school, not at home?

For anyone who has children, how many questions do you ask your children at home and is it simular to the amount of questioning you practise at school?

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Guest Wolfie

I think one of the main differences between our communication with our own children at home and those at nursery/school is that our questioning at home is often much more purposeful - we only ask questions that we really want to know the answers to....and that we don't ALREADY know the answers to! xD - and children do the same!

 

I've been delivering the Communicating Matters training to practitioners in our area recently and this is an issue that arises during the training because it affects how effectively children communicate when the arrive in early years settings. The study done by Tizard and Hughes during the 80s looked at the differences in children's ability to communicate at home and school and one of the points that they made was that children naturally asked purposeful questions at home but were often put off by adults' negative reactions to their sometimes constant questioning at nursery/school which then led to them asking less questions!

 

I think what I'm trying to say is that we need to learn from how children communicate at home, with their families and replicate that atmoshpere in our settings, encouraging these children to question right from the start when they come to us, even if it might seem to disrupt our "planned" learning! :( ....Does that make sense?? :o

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Guest sqpeg

Yes Wolfie

I agree with your statement 'even if it might seem to disrupt our "planned" learning! ....Does that make sense??'

I can think of several incidents last week when as a group we were talking about something or other and one laddy kept asking questions but were long winded and going off tangent making the other children become restless and loose momentum and interest.

an interesting subject and one i think that does need a lot more thought in how I keep the group together and focused yet inclusive to those with thoughts that are not necesary based in the discussion but equally valid. - to be honest I very often do this myself. Talking with someone and I make a connection to some thing theyve said a memory needs satisfying! Dont know if I am making sense now!

Sqpeg

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Makes perfect sense to me sqpeg, I often go off on tangents through 'reminders' within a conversation, I even interupt because I lose my train of thought and forget what I was reminded about. ( might be an age thing though)

 

What a fascinating discussion, I agree that 'home' languague/communication is so much more relaxed therefore questions may be easier to ask. Also within the 'class' context don't children so often get asked questions by adults which tend to be 'testing' rather than out of genuine interest, thus adults role model mainly only one purpose of questioning. We also tend to ask questions which the children know that we already know the answer to, thus confusing the children as to the purpose of questioning.

 

I shall certainly be looking at how staff and I initiate conversations and see how these initiations can better enable questioning from the children.

 

Maybe in the 'class' context children are asking lots of questions but internally and not verbally, maybe look at childrens body language to see expression which could indicate wonder, query, uncertainty and suggest to them "Did you want to know something / would you like to ask something"? rather than giving an answer to their query with a question ie child expresses hunger, adult says "are you hungry?, lunch time is in ten minutes" instead encourage the child to ask when lunchtime is. The wonder may be something the child is exploring, nature for example, a child may want to ask a question but doesn't know the words for what he/she wants to know or may not want to seem silly ( adults ask questions for things they know the answerws to) or are their questions dismissed due to lack of adult knowledge to give an answer, lack of time, lack of interest?

 

sometimes I think some children need 'permission' to ask questions, to know it is ok not to know, ie my grandson ( nearly 6 yrs) went through a phase of starting every sentence with "did you know that.........." he got lots of positive reinforcement from sharing his knowledge but rarely asked questions. When I noticed his continued use of starting sentences this way I asked him, "What don't you know?" and he came out with a lot of examples, as facts, "well I don't know.....and I don't know ...." I asked "How will you find out?" he replied he didn't know at which point I gave examples of different types of questions he could use.

 

lots of food for thought. Skylight it will be interesting to hear what strategies you do try with your class.

 

Peggy

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Wolfie ... I think you hit the nail on the head (to quote Susan earlier!!)

 

''I think one of the main differences between our communication with our own children at home and those at nursery/school is that our questioning at home is often much more purposeful - we only ask questions that we really want to know the answers to....and that we don't ALREADY know the answers to! wink.gif - and children do the same!''

 

You have an insight I sadly lack (my own children) and yet what you say makes so much sense. To bring in what Sqpeg has stated ' not being able to hold the class together' during questioning due to other children becoming restless etc. also makes so much sense ....

 

This is the fundimental reason why I want to improve questioning during activities on a more specific interest level and simultaniously not inflicting the rest of the class with 'wait' time. Children also sometimes loose their grasp of the question due to everyone 'waiting' etc. and the moment gone.

 

I'd be interested to hear more about your training 'communication matters' Wolfie, and any ideas regarding how to find more out about how children communicate at home. Would a home-school link be a good way of investigating... forging interest from parents etc? In some sort of embedded research etc.?

What do you think?

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Marion,

Have now spent time (that I shouldn't have as I am supposed to be planning!!!) looking at links you've given. They are good, especially the handout which provides a good starting point - so thankyou. I will definitely be using and sharing back at the ranch.

I liked the children thinking site. Thought it was strong - so found it sad the notice board so unreponsive etc. No-ones posted for over a year etc.

The scotish site is great. Do you already use some of these teaching strategies? or do you feel you have to wait for a whole school implimentation? obvious the benefits, but I'd be interested to hear more if your school does go ahead and the practical implications/contacts etc.

 

Peggy - you raised some good issues. Especially that of asking questions to test or comfirm childrens knowledge rather than engage, strech and explore curiousity and interests etc. We place so much importance on 'modelling' quite rightly so.... but to what degree? a fine balancing act! (as the last thing we want to encourage is a 'herd of sheep!' and we all know that most children have the beautiful intention to 'please') I'm glad you caught up with your nephew! (It also reminds me exactly how impressionable children are).

 

I'm keen on this thread ... it would be good to collaborate in some way with any interested parties. Reflection on how and when we question etc. and ideas to move forwards. Don't know if anyone has any interest or suggestions on how to go about this. The material that Marion looked good. ... set up some sort of 'template' so there is continuity and comparison? Interested?!!

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Guest Wolfie

The Communicating Matters training that I mentioned is a training ackage aimed at all early years pratitioners; it was developed by the DFES and aims to deepen our understanding of children's communication and language and to help us reflect on our own communicative behaviour and how that affects children's use and display of communicative behaviour. It's a really good course, presented in three modules; I've only delivered the first so far so can't say too much about the second two but I've really enjoyed exploring and sicussing all the issues involved so far.

 

The issue of home vs school language arises because we look at factors affecting our assessment of children's communication and language skills when they first enter an early years setting. Children are used to using language in a completely different environment - the home one - and need time to learn about how language is used in a new setting, with different purposes, audiences, etc etc. The Tizard/Hughes study and the work of Gordon Wells is mentioned briefly to get the point across that we may underestimate the skills of individual children and that we need to liaise closley with parents to gain information about children's use of language at home.

 

I'm not sure whereabouts in the country you are skylight but I think most authorities are beginning to roll the training out now if you are interested.

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Cheers for that Wolfie

Certainly sounds like you are on the case with good insights, all that you say I can agree with and see the logic in (bearing in mind I am a humble/ if not older NQT!!)

The Tizard/Hughes study and work of Gordon Wells ... is it worth reading to gain more insight?

Will it help develop my understanding and communication skills with children? Find methods, strategies of making those enquires with parents, facilitating the environment for new in take and scaffolding communication skills with more focus etc. especially in regards to questioning techniques and getting children to question/!!

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Hi

 

There is a book with lots of resources to use for questionning and encourgaing childrne to ask questions. but i can't remember the title or the publishers, but some of there other books include 50 things to do with a camera, 50 ways to use a Tuff spot etc. i think Ros BAyley sometimes publishes with them. I will search around and see if i can find the publishers name- the books is fantastic.

 

I think they published the beat babies stuff with ros.

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Guest Wolfie

I think the publisher might be Lawrence Educational? Helen Bromley might have written the books you are talking about, or it might actaully be Ros Bayley herself!

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I agree - I often have to query my staff on asking l "testing" questions and try and get them to reflect on what information they feel they get back from it and how valuable they feel it was. But they still slip back into it

I cannot wait to get on the communication matters course - I hear that it is very good but not too sure when it will be coming up again in my area, hopefully soon.

Communication as everyone knows is a real interest of mine - it is just so complex and one day I will look at it in much more detail - maybe for my MA. I just think its taken for granted - 87% of human time is spent communicating in one way or another - so why domt more courses include modules on communication so that we can learn more about it, know the pitfalls and barriers.

 

I attended the CWDC Practitioner Led national regional event today and went to 3 presentations one given by a teacher on Transition outside normal transition times - those children who move schools during the year for whatever reason, one by a social worker on her work with children who have lived with domestic violence, bereavement and the third from Connexions on their work with 16 year olds. Every single one spoke about the key issue of listening - if we dont listen there communication has not taken place and how often do we really listen to those testing questions when we already know the answers. I agree that with some children we may need to prompt their thinking but our own communication skills often need improving - well I know mine do so perhaps I will speak for myself only on this and that's why I did communication for my dissertation but after 10,000 words, loads of appendices and models I feel that I only touched on 5% of what communication is all aboutl I just love this example of what we need for communication so add in to the equation that you have a very young child who has not developed these things then it can be quite thought provoking

 

Nikk

How communication happens examples_of_reading_barriers.doc

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Guest sqpeg

Hi Nicola

just read your document - thats ASD all over! How confusing the world is to a person with ASD. No wonder they look blank or present with inappropriate behaviour. Are you going on the PECS course in London in a couple of weeks - forget the title now begins with A??? come back on that one in a minute :o

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My dissertation was to evaluate and analyse the strengths and weakenesses of a number of communication models and the impact it has on creating authentic communication with parent partnerships in an early years settings - or something to that effect. Sounds fairly deep but as I said before I could only touch the surface on this. Some of the more complex communication models were so complicated that you needed a PhD to actually understand them - so I used about 4 or 5 of the basic models and appllied them to my work with parents. It was really interesting. We take communication so much for granted as we just grow up with it and I thought that the barriers to reading example gave a really good simple explanation of how it can all go wrong as we make our own internal assumptions about the elements, codes and structure of what we say/read based on our experience, culture and knowledge and social systems. I find it all really interesting and I just want to learn more about it. My research for the CWDC was based on this too and what was interesting listening to other people yesterday giving their presentations that the research problems they were trying to overcome were all based on fairly simple communication issues. As far as I am concerned everything hinges from communication nothing else matters - you can be unqualified, qualified to a Phd standard but unless you can pulll together all the elements in the communiction process then you will not achieve what you set out to do.

I'll shut up now because I can get so anal on it - just off to put my anorak on and get out in the garden!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nikki

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Guest sqpeg

Fantastic isn't

one of the things I am often asked is (the child) is so cleaver able to speak using such eloquent and indepth language... yet why cant he do this and that when I ask him - basic (common understanding). Because there is no 'real' communication a common social communication. Children with asd will talk at you about facts and will use these to make contact but not fully participate in the comunicative dance, the listening - containment, the recipiciousity (bad spelling)! and then of course we see the behaviour from this break down in communication.

Verbal behaviour is the next PECS course Im going on - will have done them all then - great stuff PECS if it's done properly. People very often confuse PECS with TEACCH and this is often another break down in communication and understanding between the practitioner and person with asd, completely different concepts yet muddled by some practitioners. Again this is often due to one member of staff going on a course and then that person having to pass on the info of course they aren't going to meter out accordingly. Training in most parts particulary for asd in kent is too basic and doesnt cut the mustered for coal face practitioners. I find trying to differentiate the curriculum one of the difficulties staff face and there is not enough learning style taken into consideration -only up to a point - and even that is more complex that visual audio... not one or the other - oh he's a visual learner - were all visual learners :o

hey ho pass me the anorack :D

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Hi sqpeg and Nicola

(let us unite in anorak tradition!)

Communication is at the hart of existance. That doesn't restrict itself upon just human ... but upon nature and all that it embraces. Think of hos nature responds to it's environment. Fundimental, straight forward, out of necessity and yet highly complex.

I believe in 'real' communication and trust. Children simply don't learn unless this is established. The confusing factor (as you have pointed out) id that one rule does not fit all. The english language and conventions are not the easi-est to be understood at the best of times - wether spoken, read, written or recieved (and I'm dyselxic!)So where does this leave us as practitioners? Do we fall into a grind of asking questions to simple confirm what children already know? extend their thinking by asking abstract questions? reflect their langiage in the hope they will extend? and so on....

(I'm feeling philosopical tonight!)

I have a little person joining us next term who really shouldn't be in mainstream. Professionals involved have realised this and yet the 'system' has let him down for now. His communication skills are very poor. Uncertain of what he understands and yet know it is more than I have been advised. When thinking of questioning (it feels) really unproductive with him. They are closed questions which comfirm his understanding and then I vocalise and model a response hoping that repitition etc, will develop his 2 worded sentences.

Really feel lost here.

If you have any ideas as I have the Pics for PEC's CD/ but have not been on any training - please feel free to advise me!

All the best

Skylight

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Guest sqpeg

Hello

hmmm!

Trust yes trust is consistency in communication too which again trust in the English language - not what it says on the tin is it :D

PECS is consistent if the practitoner is so to. I would say, and what ever I say is anecdotal (in my own small way!) most parents worry when first indroduced to the idea of PECS - by the way I have nothing to do with the PECS organisation so not trying to flog anything! Just it has worked for me. Parents worry that their child will use this method instead of using language. But what PECS helps to do is teach the child the dance between two people it sets the scene for language to develope. It gives language a base... (not very good at putting into words) As Nicola said languaged is so loaded with context that we hold in one hand contain and then reason with the other and then meter out social skill. I think the little ones need picture/symbols to keep spoken words in context help with memory and time span. Most children with ASD have difficulty with time / tenses which is used in language. Gosh this is a big subject to talk about - I will look at your reply again about the little laddy tomorrow have to go now - my son - up most of the night thought at one point menengitus xD but looks like mumps today. The nurse on the phone said to me last night, does he have a rash, I said ooh dont think so I'll have a look. Lifted up his PJs and there was a rash across his chest she said get a glass - well I realised then the possibility :o . The nurse was very good over the phone kept ringing back and checking the rash and temp. :)

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Hope your little one is o.k ... sounds like you've had a tough and scary w/end.

Agree with what you have said so far, good food for thought and one of those moments when you are comfirming what I didn't know - if you know what I mean?!

First things first, hope your son makes a speedy recovery and then if you get chance would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. I would like to pursue the PEC's training I think... sounds as though it would be valuable in a multitude way of things.

All the best

Skylight

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Dear sqpeg

Hope your son is on the mend - sounded a fairly awful night - hope its not mumps, I had it when I was little and got over it quite quickly without too much of a problem but my glands this week have been so swollen I felt like I had a double chin - my neck was so swollen it was awful - I was obviously trying to fight something off big time and am nearly managing it but today I feel crap again and I start my new job tomorrow. Should have gone to the Doctors but didn;t as I felt a bit wimpy - you know the sort of scenario, well my throat does hurt, not every day , my ears hurt sometimes and I am running a temperature sometimes and my sinsus are blocked - you know what the answe would be jsut go home and rest and dont waste my time sort of thing - but I feel it is getting the better of me now. So maybe he too is trying to fight something similar - I do hope its just a mild infection - there does seem to be an awful lot of silly bugs going around so heres hoping, but its so worrying when its your child.

I think what you say about picture clues as being really important especially when dealing with children, I have not been on any PECS courses but I am going to try and get on one asap.

Nikki

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Guest sqpeg

Oh thank you both for your concern Sky light and Nikki; you need to get something for that - it is what my son has.

we went from suspected menegitis to suspected mumps and today serve case of tonsilitus! Poor little mite his neck is so swollen and bent over - I have never seen tonsilitus like it. After my nurse telephone calls on Friday - I really wanted someone to take a look at him today, i thought I cant let him go another day like this just not right. Gosh I practically had to demand to see a doctor today, after further Nurse calls. apparently the doctor only comes out to the elderly and babies I think she said. I had to take him out in tears - I was upset at seeing him in the back of the car- trying to drive carefully so as not to jolt him. Anyway he has been given antibiotics for tonsilitus.

Gosh Im tired now luckily hubby is working from home so can take care of him while I start back towork tomorrow. I do wish you well for tomorrow I suspect the worry of starting hasnt helped.

sqpeg

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