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Empowering Students as Questioners

Empowering Students as Questioners
Skills, Strategies, and Structures to Realize the Potential of Every Learner

First Edition

Foreword by Jim Knight

May 2021 | 168 pages | Corwin
Create environments where students ask questions, not just answer them!

When students become questioners, learning improves for all. Yet, even though research has repeatedly shown that student questioning increases ownership of learning and narrows opportunity gaps, studies show that students ask less than five percent of the questions in classrooms today.

How do you turn this teacher-centric dynamic around? In this book by bestselling author and education expert Jackie Walsh, the author shifts the focus to student-centric learning and how to develop student questioning strategies, including self-questions, academic questions, exploratory questions, and dialogic questions. Other highlights include:

Vignettes of quality questioning in action in various grade-level and content-area classrooms
Examples of how to use questioning to harness the power of formative assessment and create a culture of inquiry
Student questioning models for distance learning

By instilling students with the desire and ability to become better questioners, teachers will see more actively engaged students, more collaboration, and an increase in overall student motivation for learning and achievement.
Why Is Student Question-Asking Important? Making the Case

Why Should Teachers Incorporate Student Questions Into Their Instruction? Filling a Void

What Propels Student Questioners? The Skill, the Will, and the Thrill

How Can We Develop Students’ Skill and Will to Ask Questions in Class? About This Book

How Can Teachers Motivate Students? Creating the Classroom Culture

How Should Teachers Proceed? Setting Explicit Expectations

How Can Teachers Transform Learning? A Process to Build Capacity

Monitoring Learning—Developing Student Capacity to Ask Questions to Self-Regulate

Making Meaning—Developing Student Capacity to Ask Self-Questions to Build Understanding

Building a Knowledge Base—Developing Student Capacity to Ask Academic Questions

Nurturing Curiosity—Developing Student Capacity to Ask Exploratory Questions

Broadening Perspectives—Developing Student Capacity to Ask Dialogic Questions

Beyond Scaffolding—Toward a Holistic Approach

Realizing the Potential—In School and Beyond


"I have a question: Why don’t you have this book? It’s filled with amazing ideas that encourage students to ask questions. In doing so, you will spark students’ curiosity and wonder. You will capture their minds and hearts and, I promise, they will learn more."

Douglas Fisher, Ph.D., Professor of Educational Leadership
San Diego State University

"This is my new go-to book. It is superb, a classic, and the resources are compelling. In it Jackie Walsh invites us to explore the teacher mindframe, 'I am intentional in nurturing students as questioners' and discover how to create classroom cultures that welcome students' impact and authentic questions. Questions are the essence of curiosity and they invite a sense of wonder, which is a great invitation to learning, the beginning of problem-solving, and the best prompt to motivate inquiring and understanding. There is no question, this is the right book to answer this challenge."

John Hattie, Laureate Professor
Melbourne Graduate School of Education

"Empowered students become leaders of their own learning, resulting in success in school, career, and life. In her latest book, Empowering Students as Questioners, Jackie Walsh provides a formula to empower students through questioning. One of my favorite parts of the book are the actionable steps to help students self-question so they can monitor their progress, deepen their understanding, and discover new ideas and concepts to explore. This book is filled with resources, including videos of practitioners who have honed their craft by engaging students as questioners. Teachers will refer to it time and time again as they seek to support their students in deep and meaningful learning."

Cathy W. Gassenheimer, Executive Vice President
Alabama Best Practices Center

"Empowering students to become skillful and confident in constructing and asking questions is making a positive impact on the overall instructional climate of classrooms across my district. I observe teachers transforming the student role from that of occasional responder to teacher questions to one of actively engaged questioner. This change is resulting from the commitment of classroom teachers and instructional leaders at all levels in our district. In Jackie Walsh’s new book, you’ll find classroom examples illustrating the skills, strategies, and structures that support students in becoming more engaged in and responsible for their learning."

Jeff Goodwin, Ed.D., Superintendent of Oxford City Schools and Alabama Superintendent of the Year 2020

"Dr. Jackie Walsh has written a must-read book for administrators and teachers who are considering best practices to invest in students' ability to excel in their own questioning. Read this book and learn from one of the best."

Dr. Lisa Berry, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction
Trussville City Schools, AL

"Dr. Jackie Walsh leaves no stone unturned in her journey to share proven questioning strategies gleaned from years of field experience and partnerships with teachers. She offers readers a unique categorization of student questions that provides a framework and common vocabulary for building a culture of questioning. Not only does this book offer turnkey tools, protocols, and routines for educators to increase questioning practices, it also provides metacognitive processes and reflection guides for student use. It’s a must-have for educators on a mission to empower students with the knowledge and disposition of questioning."

Jana Claxton, Professional Learning Coordinator
Irving ISD, TX

"'Student questions are strong levers for learning.' Dr. Jackie Walsh once again successfully reminds educators of the value of using questions for both student growth and sound instructional decision-making during the learning process. Whether through self-questioning, personal reflection, exploratory questioning, or dialogical questioning, the reader will be challenged to contemplate how the process of using think time and other modes of questioning ignites the potential for learning in any classroom for both students and the classroom practitioner."

Bradley A. Scott, Ed.D., Instructional Leader
Huntsville, AL

"Giving students the ability and opportunity to question not only academic content, but also the world they live in, is an invaluable skill that will benefit them throughout their lives. This book provides clear, common-sense strategies that can be embedded in any curriculum to impact learning for ALL students. It will be a vital resource for me as I work with teachers across my campus to improve engagement, instruction, and success for students."

Sarah Menn, Instructional Coach
Byron Nelson High School, Trophy Club, TX

"Rigor occurs when learners have their own thoughts about unique, original, or new content and strategy and when they are engaged enough to persevere. Empowering Students as Questioners provides educators a gateway for designing engaging and rigorous learning experiences for students. Jackie Walsh is masterful at explaining how to use strategies and structures to develop students as questioners who are seeking to become self-regulated learners striving to make meaning of the world around them. I love this book, from the opening powerful task design in Ms. Shelton’s 9th-grade classroom, to explicitly teaching students how to assume the role of questioners versus answerers of teacher questions. It is a must-read for those who are committed to transforming classrooms spaces where not knowing an answer is viewed as an opportunity to learn rather than a sign of failure."

Terri Stice, Consultant and author of "Powerful Task Design"
Bowling, KY

"Any teacher who seeks to unleash student curiosity should have this book on their shelf, underlined, dog-eared, and full of margin notes. We’ve long known (yet often neglected) the power of curiosity to fuel student learning. The real 'magic' of curiosity happens, of course, when students begin to ask their questions. For many teachers, though, getting students who barely respond to teacher questions to ask their own questions may feel like a bridge too far. With compelling insights and practical strategies, Jackie Walsh shows teachers how to get from here to there, creating classrooms where students take charge of their own learning by asking themselves questions to reflect on their progress, deepen their understandings, and unleash their curiosity so they become lifelong learners."

Bryan Goodwin, President & CEO, McREL International, and author of "Building a Curious School"

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ISBN: 9781544331744

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