Learning to ask deeper, more probing questions

April 2022…A few weeks ago, our fourth-grade newspaper team at Logan Elementary School rattled off the insightful questions they planned to ask a school guidance counselor. 

  • What if you get frustrated while you’re practicing mindfulness? What advice do you have to get through it?
  • Has mindfulness ever NOT helped you?
  • Why do you choose to practice mindfulness instead of another relaxation method that could help someone relax?
  • Would you like for the whole school to do mindfulness? Why or why not?

This was a far cry from six months earlier, when in September, we began to prepare for their first interview, and many of their questions were basic. We started with the 5Ws and 1H (who, what, where, when, why and how), an extension of the “5 finger retell,” a strategy many kids learn in elementary school to help them relay the important parts of a story. They came up with yes/no questions, or questions that don’t dig deeply into an interviewee’s story. 

Students don’t often get a chance to be the question askers in our public schools. They are used to being the question answerers. But if we want to encourage curiosity and empathy in the leaders of tomorrow, it’s crucial for them to know how to ask questions now. Soon, many reporters realize that an interview is a safe place to ask questions in the third person, and get factual information about topics near to their hearts.

As the reporters have now gained months of practice and have been given time to devote to thinking of and writing questions, in the late winter and early spring, they dazzle with the thoughtfulness and depth of their questions. 

By Mia Blitstein, M.S.Ed., Healthy NewsWorks Program Manager


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