Learn about Your Students with “What If” Questions – Teacher’s Corner


Teacher’s Corner
Asking “What If” is a way to learn about your students.
For example, ask:
  • “What if Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary had not been assassinated in 1914?” Find out how students understand the causes of World War I.
  • “What if we could add one more subject to your school day?” Find out students’ interests (what subject they would choose) and concerns (whether they would want another subject or not).
More about “What If” questions at When Are Kids Old Enough?

Writing Prompts and Discussion Topics for Learning about Your Students.

  1. “What if Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary had not been assassinated in 1914?” (for older students )
  2. “What if the USA added a 51st state? (for younger students)
  3. “What if we could add one more subject to your school day?”
  4. “What if you could go anywhere in the world on vacation?”
Teachers, you can use this blog in classrooms. Here are two ideas about how.
  1. For middle or high school parenting or child development courses:
  • Use the blog for discussion topics
  • Require students to research the topics and agree or disagree with what the blog is suggesting.

2.  For all courses, especially English Language Arts:

  • Use the blog for writing prompts for paragraphs, theme papers, journal entries, class starters, etc. Have students read the blog and respond to:
    • Do you agree with what is being said about kids? Do kids really act, think or feel that way?
    • Do you agree with what is being said about parents, grandparents, teachers and child caregivers? Do or should they act, think or feel that way?
    • What would be your advice on this topic?
    • What was left out of this article?
    • If you were a parent, would you use any of this information? How?
Why can this blog be a useful teaching tool?
  • Students that see connections between their coursework and their lives do better in school.
  • Most students will either be parents one day or have children in their lives that they care about, so the topical information can help them build their knowledge about children and parenting and develop a positive image of the type of parenting they want to do.
  • The new core literacy standards adopted by most states call for frequent writing in all courses.
  • Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can think critically. These prompts help students practice critical thinking.
  • Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can analyze what they read. These prompts help students practice analysis.