A question is a statement which is asking for the answer to something for which the teacher honestly does not know the answer. A quiz is a statement which assumes that the teacher knows something about the statement, and is checking to see what the person being asked knows. As John Holt suggests, a quiz demonstrates a fundamental distrust between the teacher and their student.
A question leads children to think about possible answers, and a quiz leads children to find either a way to avoid the question, or feel uncomfortable because they aren’t sure for what answer the teacher is looking.
Make sure you ask questions when you want kids to think. If you must quiz students, make sure that they are clear about the purpose of the quiz, and do it in such a way that "I don’t know" is an acceptable answer.
Here are some quizzing techniques to avoid if at all possible:
- Asking and answering. There’s not much point in asking something if you are just going to turn around and answer it right away.
- Asking that which relies on kids being able to read your mind. This turns kids into guessers.
- Asking that which being able to respond requires that you had to be paying attention moments ago. Turning your quizzes into opportunities to catch kids daydreaming makes kids less likely to want to answer any of them. Everyone loses focus occasionally, find another way to deal with the issue.
- Asking that which is entirely obvious. If you know it is obvious, and the kids know that the answer is obvious, asking about it is just going to make the kids think that you think they are stupid.
- Making rhetorical statements. These aren’t really questions or quizzes but rather a way of presenting information in a confusing way. Your students for whom English is a second language don’t like rhetorical "questions" because they are confusing and useless.
What are some other quizzing techniques we should avoid? (This is a question, since I don’t know the answer, and am actually curious about your thoughts.)