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Exploring the Benefits of Collaborative Reading for Developing a Questioning Mindset

A typical classroom has the teacher on one side in front of a black or whiteboard and students seated on the other side. The teacher teaches from a syllabus and the students listen. A teacher who believes in the power of collaboration would in all probability set in motion a group discussion based on the subject scheduled for the day. She may encourage the students to ask questions. Listing those questions on the board shows the students that their thoughts matter and are recognized. Hunting for information to answer questions gives children further validity.


Some children may hesitate to raise questions for the fear that their questions are silly. In all likelihood, there would have been an earlier precedent that would have made the child feel this way. Repeated announcements that there are no silly questions pave the way for these children too to gradually open up. What helps immensely is to sensitize those who speak without any hesitation to take notice that some in the group haven't spoken. This shows them to pause and give others a chance. The quieter ones are forced to voice out their opinions/thoughts/questions and in the process they gain confidence.

Reading to find answers to the questions

Giving the students a choice to pick their questions helps them start exploring from a interesting point. The likelihood of them reading through information with intent and interest becomes a lot higher. Sharing interesting finds is not scary anymore because they have actual evidence to support what they are sharing with the class. They get to contribute a piece or two about the subject in question thus giving them a place of value.

As an added benefit, a little independent and productive reading also gets done without the pressure of judgement or grades.


Assisting those who say they don't have any questions and hence avoid reading

Some children prefer not to follow the spirit of enquiry and instead choose to be on receiving end for information transfer. While this is standard and perhaps a lot easier, it fails to inculcate the questioning ability which is an essential component of building problem solving skills. Reading to question and reading further to find answers to those questions, sets the habit of being curious, seeking help either from published material or someone who can help. It helps children take initiative.

Children who prefer not to go this route need a little nudging. Giving them the 5W questions and 'How' to work with and spend time thinking to come up with just one question could help them get past the reluctance to ask questions.

Questions can arise from reading and also from active listening

Collaborative learning formats that involve active group discussions paves the way for variety in the learning process. Someone's thought process or information finding skills may set the ball rolling for different perspective leading to new questions for which the group can continue probing further to learn more.

Could this process be a time consuming in comparison to just following a textbook? Sure might be but the effectiveness of the learning process is bound to be higher. Give it a try in your classroom or just in your home with your child. You will notice that learning is a lot more enjoyable and actually brings joy!

Do drop an email to if you have an experience to share with our readers.


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