The Art of Handling Off-Topic Question Askers!

Monday, November 3, 2014
Don't get me wrong, questions are a GREAT thing.  Students should be encouraged to ask questions so that they can learn! Let's look at the ON TOPIC question and the OFF TOPIC question.  ON TOPIC questions=awesome, wonderful, music to my ears.  OFF TOPIC questions=nails on a chalkboard!

The other day I was talking to my class about the 13 colonies.  We were having a REALLY interesting conversation (well at least in my opinion!) about the resources that were available to the colonists and we were just beginning to talk about why the middle colonies were referred to as the bread basket colonies. Exciting stuff!!!  Just then a student LEAPS out of their chair and is just on the brink of sharing what looks to be the most interesting piece of information!   

                "HAVE OUR BOOK ORDERS COME YET???????"  

This brings me to a very important topic. 
Off task question askers!  Sometimes students just need to ask whatever it may be at that given moment.

The other day, an idea just came to me! I knew I needed to think about the issue of off topic questions and needed to give students a strategy for getting their question written down (when it pops into their mind) so that I can answer them (at an appropriate time!)

The Question Jar  
      This morning, Monday, after a LONG Halloween weekend, my students walked in EAGER with questions.  I had about 4 come up to me with questions FIRST THING.  :) . I handed them a post-it note and pointed to the jar.  Student A looked at the jar, looked at me, and smiled. "CLE-VER!" she said.  "THANK YOU!" I said :)
So I received 37 total questions today. 

Are we switching jobs today?
Are our book orders here yet?
 Do the people that left early on Friday still get the treat bag?
Are we going to be reading after lunch?
Do you like pickles? 
Can we have a comment jar?

It was actually fun answering their questions before lunch/before going home and I think the excitement of the question jar will probably dwindle.  But it will still be there for off topic question askers for the rest of the year.  And of course, I had to make a comment jar based on the last question.  
Most of the comments had to do with the fact that I needed to change the clock because of Daylight Savings Time (which I need a LADDER for so that wasn't happening until after school!) My favorite, "You might want to change the time on the clock."
"You need to change our class clock 1 hour early.  Sunday was Daylight Savings."

Kidding aside, the comment jar did give one of my students the opportunity to tell me some important information about why they would be absent from school the following day which was PERFECT because it gave me the chance to get their work together.  

Click here for the link to make your OWN question/comment jar!

How do you handle off topic questions and comments?

1 comment:

  1. I am going to try this out! Thank you!!!!


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