Some children don’t do well in class tests because they don’t understand the questions. At home, these children do well and are well prepared for the exams. But they get confused when they start writing the answers. What they write would not relate to what the examiner had asked. Though they have learnt the lesson well and know all the answers, they are unable to choose the correct answer. One of the reasons for this is the difficulty in understanding the questions.
This activity, prompts the child to make questions. By making questions, she/he can understand the features of questions.This activity would help the child to relate to the questions in a test paper.
Benefits of this activity:
Some children unnecessarily learn the whole answer by rote. It is enough if they understand the key word or a piece of information to answer questions- at least the short questions.
Some children struggle to learn and to write long answers.Forming a chain of questions helps children to divide the answer into many parts. They have to stitch together these key parts to write long answers. This method helps children to write essays.
Storage of information is an important part of learning. Learning becomes complete only when the information is stored in the long term memory. Forming questions helps the brain to store the information in an organized way and this facilitates easy and quick recall of what is learnt.
- Learning basic grammar
Making questions is an effective method to learn grammar, especially the topic subject-verb agreement. Children don’t understand the concept of singular verbs. The usage of is, was, are and were, are problem areas. They get confused when does, do and did are used in questions. The usage of has and have is another area which leaves them frustrated. Question tags, a simple exercise in grammar, is a nightmare for some children. The mismatch of tenses is a huge problem.
Making questions is a good exercise to understand the peculiarities of English language. This activity also makes them recognize the patterns in English grammar.
- Learning how to answer questions:
The child has to remember only one word ‘red’ to answer the question. A knowledge of the structure of sentence is what is required.
The question is: What is the colour of blood? A child who knows the structure of sentences would be able to write the form of answer from the question. The child can begin by writing: The colour of blood is .Only the key word ‘red’ is to be added.
- The child learns the colour of blood is red. The question can be, “What is the colour of blood?” Some children learn by rote the entire answer: “The colour of blood is red.” And as often happens with rote learning, children get stuck somewhere in the middle and they are unable to proceed.
- Another example: Where did he go? The answer is: He went to buy vegetables. Here also the child has to remember only one word, vegetables. The rest of the answer is in the question itself. A child who knows the structure of sentences would know that the answers to questions having ‘did’ in them would always be in the past tense.
It is easy to answer: He went to buy vegetables.
Lots of time can be saved if sufficient attention is given to basic grammar and sentence structure.
- Questions help to learn better and to store information efficiently.
How is the activity organized?
This activity has five sections. Each section has 25 questions.
Details of the nature of questions included in the sections are given below. There are also some miscellaneous questions in each section.
Is and Are questions
Does and Do questions
What, Where, Which ,Doesn’t etc questions
Who, Why, Don’t , and other questions
When, Whose, Will, Should etc questions
Some children don’t start a sentence or question with a capital letter. The questions in this activity are designed to make the user concentrate on this aspect. Examples of some of the options are: is, Is; are, Are; where, Where; etc.Regular practice of these questions would be helpful for children who omit to start a sentence/question with a capital letter.
The exercises in this lesson are in the form of fill in the blanks. Four options are given for each question. The child has to choose the correct option and complete the question.
The questions are directly related to the picture. Some questions require the child to bring out the information that she/he already knows and relate them to the picture.
Tips for parents
How to take this activity further?
- Make it a habit to ask questions.
Asking questions is an effective method to teach your child. If your child doesn’t do well in exams, then one basic step is to make your child prepare questions from the lessons and answer them.
You can prepare a list of questions before you teach a new topic. The questions can be prepared under three heads.
Ask questions to bring out what the child already knows about the topic.
Prepare a list of key words in the lesson. Use questions to organize what you are teaching. What, Where, Why, When, Which, Who, Whose, How questions can be used.
Link the questions to what was taught in earlier lessons.
Prepare a list of questions for revision. Some questions in column 2 can be used. One sheet of paper containing questions would be enough to do revision. Repeated reading of textbook can be avoided.
Use mind maps and graphic organizers to teach your child. The internet has lots of information on mind maps and graphic organizers. www.pinterest.com is an excellent site. Search for: asking questions, fish bone graphic organizer, spider web notes, sequence tree, cause and effect, contrasts and similarities, flower- summary graphic organizer.
Guidance is available in the internet on preparing mind maps.
- Make questions an integral part of your plan to teach
Struggling readers require lots of time to study a lesson. And some of them have poor memory. Your child may require special attention. Use a board to teach. Proper planning is required to make your child an effective learner. Your planning can save your child lots of time.
- Revision, forgetting cycle and activities for long term memory
Much research has been done on how much of what we learn we forget and how quickly. The following table shows the forgetting cycle.
How much do we forget?
Within one hour
50% of what we learn
Within 24 hours
70% of what we learn
Within in a week
90% of what we learn
Research also shows which activities make us remember more. See the following table.
How much we remember
Teaching someone else what we learnt
Practising what is learnt
Discussing on what is learnt
Listening to a lecture
- My child knows everything but he doesn’t score well in exams. What to do?
Struggling learners have problem in scoring well in exams. The main reason is parents teach children what is in the text book. The teaching is information based but not examination based. The child at home answers orally all the questions but in the examination hall everything is lost.
Anxiety may be one of the reasons for failure to perform in tests. Lack of self-confidence could be another reason. But the biggest reason is the lack of preparation for the exams.
The first thing you must to do while preparing your child for exams is to get hold of model question papers. Struggling learners don’t understand the questions and they also don’t know how to use the information she/he knows to answer the questions.
Prepare three or four sets of question papers for your child to do. Repeated practice of answering model question papers will help your child to do better in exams.
Teach your child to gain knowledge but also to do well in exams.
- Mastery test
Ask your child to prepare question papers following the patterns of questions followed by the teachers.Your child may not prepare a good question paper but the preparation of the paper itself would be a good revision!
Plan your teaching based on the above findings. Revision is a very important part of retaining what our children learn. Listening to what you teach is a very passive activity and your child retains only 5% of what is learnt. On the other hand, teaching others makes your child retain much more information. Make your child teach you what she/he has learnt. Use a board.
The first revision should take place as soon as possible. Before you start teaching, revise what was learnt the previous day. The next revision can take place within 24 hours. Revise after three days. The next revision can be after a week. The revision cycle helps your child to remember more.
Preparing a list of questions greatly helps your child in revision. Questions also help your child to explain and discuss what is learnt.
- Buy books on grammar that have answer keys to exercises
- Search the net: making questions, easy way of making questions, how to make questions.
- Know more about mind maps and graphic organizers. The internet has plenty of materials on these topics.