Using Reciprocal Questioning to help students ask better questions

I often told my students that when they entered my class that they were on a journey. Their purpose was to seek information that would ultimately change the way that they think. As a result, the questions they asked throughout the process were very important. The strategy known as Reciprocal Questioning (ReQuest for short) can help teach students to ask more thoughtful questions . The strategy is used primarily in ELA classes, but it can definitely be used to help students learn regardless of the content.

The creator of the technique intended for it to be used once students read a specified portion of text. Then the teacher would engages students in Reciprocal Questioning to make sure the students were comprehending what they were reading. I invite you to use your creativity to explore how you can use this system (or a modification of it )to help your students learn how to ask more questions and with precision. I have slightly modified the strategy and here are the steps:

1. Both students and teacher read the text silently

2. The teacher closes their book and invites questions from the students. Give feedback to students regarding their questions as needed. If questions aren’t clear, ask students for clarification.

3. Roles are reversed and the teacher gets to ask questions of the students. The students do not have access to the text when they are answering questions

4. The teacher has a conversation with the students regarding their predictions and inferences. The students need to offer evidence for their thoughts.

5. If predictions and inferences are on target, allow students to continue reading independently

Again, this formula can be modified to fit the needs of your students and content. This strategy involves text, but here are other things you can use instead of text:

  • Pictures
  • A completed math problem with work included
  • Clips from a movie/tv show
  • A graphic organizer

If you use it, please share the results below. How else do you encourage students to ask more questions? Please share your advice in the comments below. Also, please click HERE to check out my source of the steps above.


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