Anticipating Student Questions

When I present a lesson, I try to direct my lessons so that ANTICIPATED student questions drive the discussion. When I’m reading my lesson text or scripture block, I ask myself some of the following things:

– Does this passage have any unusual words or difficult phrasing?
– Do I understand the background of this passage? Who is speaking? Why?
– How can the footnotes help me understand the background or phrasing or doctrine?
– Is there a related Bible Dictionary entry?
– Did this remind me of a general conference quote/personal experience/etc?
– What questions did I have about this doctrine at my students’ age?
– What questions do I have now about this doctrine?

I write down any questions that might come up in the place where they were triggered in my mind, and I try to be sure that I either know the answer (good) or know how to guide the kids how to find the answer themselves (better). I don’t automatically answer these questions during my lecture, but I let the kids ask them. It teaches students to be curious and gets them in the habit of Asking questions to seek knowledge from gospel teachers and peers. If you use the opportunity to allow students to find the answer using their scriptures, they will learn a valuable skill.

It is very easy to get off track when trying to anticipate student questions! You’ll find out so much interesting information! Be sure that you keep in mind the needs and knowledge of your students, not your own curiosity, and try not to get off track beyond what is necessary to answer any questions your students will ask during class.

For example, when we read some verses on giants in the Old Testament, I knew that my kids would laugh and wonder aloud if the giants were actually giant, or if they were ordinary sized people because the people back then were smaller. If not that, I knew they’d at least be curious about giants. So I planned time in my lesson to let them look up the Bible Dictionary entry and read the scripture references on giants. When we hit that verse, I let them chat amongst themselves about the giants for a little bit, until they were full of questions. Then I asked if they wanted to learn more. YES! How can we do that? …. oh, yeah — Bible Dictionary. They scrambled to look up the passage and read it aloud, and we followed the scriptures. I pointed out that they have the tools to answer many of their own questions — the Bible Dictionary is a major one.

As another example, during a lesson on Jonah a student asked the location of Ninevah. I let students hunt for a minute and flip through their scriptures until they/we came up with the Index of Place Names. I had them look up and locate maps with Ninevah on it. Then we looked up Tarshish. (I already knew it wasn’t there from my lesson planning.) I asked them what we should do. We looked it up in the Bible Dictionary and found that Tarshish is believed to have been located in Spain.

Great for: Lesson preparation, Teaching students to use study helps

Class size: Any class size

Helps Students: SEARCH the scriptures or text

Prep Time: 10+ minutes

Student Age: Any age

Equipment needed: 

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