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National School Reform Faculty

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DevelopedbyGeneThompson-Grove,EdorahFrazer,FaithDunneandfurtherrevisedbyEdorahFrazer. Thedistinctionbetweenclarifyingquestionsandprobingquestionsisverydifficultformostpeople workingwithprotocols.Soisthedistinctionbetweenprobingquestionsandrecommendationsforaction. Thebasicdistinctionsare: ClarifyingQuestionsaresimplequestionsoffact.Theyclarifythedilemmaandprovidethenutsandbolts sothattheparticipantscanaskgoodprobingquestionsandprovideusefulfeedbacklaterintheprotocol. Clarifyingquestionsarefortheparticipants,andshouldnotgobeyondtheboundariesofthepresenter's dilemma.Theyhavebrief,factualanswers,anddon'tprovideanynew"foodforthought"forthe presenter.Thelitmustestforaclarifyingquestionis:Doesthepresenterhavetothinkbefores/heanswers? Ifso,it'salmostcertainlyaprobingquestion. Someexamplesofclarifyingquestions: · Howmuchtimedoestheprojecttake? · Howwerethestudentsgrouped? · Whatresourcesdidthestudentshaveavailableforthisproject? ProbingQuestionsareintendedtohelpthepresenterthinkmoredeeplyabouttheissueathand.If aprobingquestiondoesn'thavethateffect,itiseitheraclarifyingquestionorarecommendation withanupwardinflectionattheend.Ifyoufindyourselfsaying"Don'tyouthinkyoushould...?" you'vegonebeyondprobingquestions.Thepresenteroftendoesn'thaveareadyanswertoagenuine probingquestion.Sinceprobingquestionsarethehardesttocreateproductively,weofferthefollowing suggestions: · Checktoseeifyouhavea"right"answerinmind.Ifso,deletethejudgmentfromthequestion,or don'taskit. · Refertothepresenter'soriginalquestion/focuspoint.Whatdids/heaskforyourhelpwith?Check yourprobingquestionsforrelevance. · Checktoseeifyouareassertingyourownagenda.Ifso,returntothepresenter'sagenda. · Sometimesasimple"why...?"askedasanadvocateforthepresenter'ssuccesscanbeveryeffective,as canseveralwhyquestionsaskedinarow. · Tryusingverbs:Whatdoyoufear?Want?Get?Assume?Expect? · Thinkabouttheconcentriccirclesofcomfort,riskanddanger.Usetheseasabarometer.Don'tavoid risk,butdon'tpushthepresenterintothe"dangerzone." · Thinkofprobingquestionsasbeingonacontinuum,fromrecommendationtomosteffectiveprobing question.Forexample[onnextpage--fromanactualConsultancysessioninwhichateacherwas tryingtofigureoutwhythestrongestmathstudentsintheclassweren'tbuyinginanddoingtheirbest workonwhatseemedtobeinterestingmath"problemsoftheweek"]: 1) Couldyouhavestudentsusetherubrictoassesstheirownpapers?(recommendationre-statedasa question)

ProtocolsaremostpowerfulandeffectivewhenusedwithinanongoingprofessionallearningcommunitysuchasaCriticalFriendsGroup®andfacilitated byaskilledcoach.Tolearnmoreaboutprofessionallearningcommunitiesandseminarsforneworexperiencedcoaches,pleasevisittheNationalSchool ReformFacultywebsiteatwww.nsrfharmony.org.

2) Whatwouldhappenifstudentsusedtherubrictoassesstheirownwork?(recommendationre-stated asaprobingquestion) 3) Whatdothestudentsthinkisaninterestingmathproblem?(goodprobingquestion) 4) Whatwouldhavetochangeforstudentstoworkmoreforthemselves?(betterprobingquestion) Insummary,goodprobingquestions: · aregeneralandwidelyuseful · don'tplaceblameonanyone · allowformultipleresponses · helpcreateaparadigmshift · empowerthepersonwiththedilemmatosolvehisorherownproblem(ratherthandeferringto someonewithgreaterordifferentexpertise) · avoidyes/noresponses · areusuallybrief · elicitaslowresponse · movethinkingfromreactiontoreflection · encouragetakinganotherparty'sperspective Somefinalhintsforcraftingprobingquestions.Trythefollowingquestionsand/orquestionstems.Some ofthemcomefromCharlotteDanielson'sPathwisework,inwhichshereferstothemas"mediational questions." · Whydoyouthinkthisisthecase? · Whatwouldhavetochangeinorderfor...? · Whatdoyoufeelisrightinyourheart? · Whatdoyouwish...? · What'sanotherwayyoumight...? · Whatwoulditlooklikeif...? · Whatdoyouthinkwouldhappenif...? · Howwas...differentfrom...? · Whatsortofanimpactdoyouthink...? · Whatcriteriadidyouuseto...? · Whenhaveyoudone/experiencedsomethinglikethisbefore? · Whatmightyouseehappeninginyourclassroomif...? · Howdidyoudecide/determine/conclude...? · Whatisyourhunchabout....? · Whatwasyourintentionwhen....? · Whatdoyouassumetobetrueabout....? · Whatistheconnectionbetween...and...? · Whatiftheoppositeweretrue?Thenwhat? · Howmightyourassumptionsabout...haveinfluencedhowyouarethinkingabout...? · Whyisthissuchadilemmaforyou? SomeExamplesofProbingQuestions: · Whyisa"stand-and-deliver"formatthebestwaytointroducethisconcept? · Howdoyouthinkyourowncomfortwiththematerialhasinfluencedyourchoiceofinstructional strategies? · Whatdothestudentsthinkisqualitywork? · Youhaveobservedthatthisstudent'sworklacksfocus­whatmakesyousaythat?

ProtocolsaremostpowerfulandeffectivewhenusedwithinanongoingprofessionallearningcommunitysuchasaCriticalFriendsGroup®andfacilitated byaskilledcoach.Tolearnmoreaboutprofessionallearningcommunitiesandseminarsforneworexperiencedcoaches,pleasevisittheNationalSchool ReformFacultywebsiteatwww.nsrfharmony.org.

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Whatwouldthestudentsinvolvedsayaboutthisissue? Howhaveyourperspectivesoncurrenteventsinfluencedhowyouhavestructuredthisactivity? Whyaren'tthescienceteachersinvolvedinplanningthisunit? Whydoyouthinktheteamhasn'tmovedtointerdisciplinarycurriculumplanning? Whatwouldunderstandingofthismathematicalconceptlooklike?Howwouldyouknowstudents have"gottenit"? Whydidallowingstudentstocreatetheirownstudyquestionscauseaproblemforyou? Whydoyouthinktheexpectedoutcomesofthisunitweren'tcommunicatedtoparents? Whatwasyourintentionwhenyouassignedstudentstooverseethegroupactivityinthisassignment? Whatevidencedoyouhavefromthisstudent'sworkthatherabilitytoreachsubstantiatedconclusions hasimproved? Howmightyourassumptionsaboutthereasonswhyparentsaren'tinvolvedhaveinfluencedwhatyou havetriedsofar? Howdoyouthinkyourexpectationsforstudentsmighthaveinfluencedtheirworkonthisproject? Whatdoyouthinkwouldhappenifyourestatedyourprofessionalgoalsasquestions? Whatotherapproacheshaveyouconsideredforcommunicatingwithparentsabouttheirchildren's progress?

ProtocolsaremostpowerfulandeffectivewhenusedwithinanongoingprofessionallearningcommunitysuchasaCriticalFriendsGroup®andfacilitated byaskilledcoach.Tolearnmoreaboutprofessionallearningcommunitiesandseminarsforneworexperiencedcoaches,pleasevisittheNationalSchool ReformFacultywebsiteatwww.nsrfharmony.org.

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