“By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn”- Latin Proverb
What Is A Good Question?
A good question encourages learning, has a well-defined objective, and guides the students to see what they need to learn.
- One that begins with why, explain, what do you think, in your opinion, how, etc. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, and because of that the students know that their is something to be discussed rather then an specific answer.
- One that is relevant to the members of the classroom.
- One that has enough depth to the answer that members can share opinions.
- One that is phrased clearly and specific enough that students know what you are asking.
- One that is short enough to remember what you are asking.
- One that helps build connections between the discussion and your teaching objective.
What Is A Bad Question?
- One that is too wide for the purpose.
- One that is too narrow of a question.
- One that isn’t relevant to members.
- One that isn’t phrased clearly.
- One that is to long to remember.
- One that is not clear or understandable.
- One that does not promote thinking.
Questions are the most important part of a discussion. Here is a pool of questions to help you come up with a just the right question (What is the right question to ask? Go here to learn more.) Add your question ideas in the comment section at the bottom of the page.
- What do you think confuses others about *blank*?
- Why do you think they are confused about *blank*?
- How would you explain/teach someone about *blank*?
- What do you think some questions others of different faiths may have about *blank*?
- How would you answer those questions?
- What did you learn from that experience?
- What stood out to you from *blank*?
- What comes to your mind when you consider this verse?
- What is *blank*?
- Why is it so important?
- I’d love to learn more about *blank* can someone tell me more about it?
- What are your views on *blank*?
- When has *blank* blessed your life?
- Why do you think our Heavenly Father has us do *blank*?
- Why is it so important?
Below is an example of using good discussion questions and follow-up questions talked about in the Question Study page. (mentor bolded, student italicized)
How can I know my Heavenly Father? Discussion example :
How have you personally come to know Heavenly Father in your life?
Whenever I read my scriptures I always look for how Heavenly Father communicates with His children. It has helped me to understand and come to find out how Heavenly Father communicates with me.
How does Heavenly Father communicate with you? (This follows up from what the member answered. You could ask any question to get more in-depth to what the member answered.)
By putting subtle thoughts in my head, or by a peaceful filling in my heart that my decisions are correct.
Why did scripture study help you find out how Heavenly Father communicates with you? (Your goal is to help members learn that scriptures study and prayer helps them know God. This question ties their two answers together and helps bring the discussion goal out without saying it.)
Probably because it helped me see many different ways He speaks to His children, and it made me realize what ways I have noticed the Holy Ghost speaking to me.
So scripture study and prayer have helped you know God better, but once you prayed and got to know how Heavenly Father communicates with you that is when you started to really come to know God. (This re-accentuates the goal of the discussion and wraps up what the members answered. You could add a personal experience here, a quote, a scripture, a talk, etc.)
Why do you guys think prayer and scripture study helped so-and-so to become closer to God? (Ask this to the class. It is important to always open up a one-on-one discussion to the whole class.)
Because He was able to recognize what the Spirit was and how God used it to communicate with others in the scriptures, and that made it so he was able to recognize the Holy Ghost in his life.
Does anyone else have a way they have come to know Heavenly Father?
Sally, how have you come to know your Heavenly Father? (Don’t be afraid to call on someone! Many times kids don’t answer because they are intimidated or they may even think that their opinion is not wanted. However, in some cases it is because they may be bored of the lesson or they don’t find the discussion worth their time. Check the specific month page for ideas of how to do different things, or check out our blog for more ideas.)
Um… I guess just through scriptures and stuff.
Scriptures are a great place to go to learn about God and how we can know Him better. How about we each find a scripture that teaches us how we can come to know Heavenly Father? While you are finding the scripture I want you to see if you have done anything the scriptures say we can do to come to know Heavenly Father. (The member didn’t answer with much thought or insight, but you can still go off of what they answered and make their comment seem important and wanted. Going to the scriptures, and having the students find something, is a great activity to do. It lets the Holy Ghost teach each student, teaches them how to find answers in the scriputures, and teaches them how to share insights/impressions they have. This is by far my favorite thing to do in a discussion because you can get such a variety of comments, and yet they are all pure testimony.)
(students are given time to search for scripture)
John, how about you share what scripture you found and why you chose it. (It is important to ask the member to not only share their scripture, but why they chose it, and what stood out to them.)
Mine talks about how when we come unto Christ and learn of Him we are learning of the Father because they are One. So for me it tells me that when I use the Atonement and try to be like Christ I am also trying to be like my Father in Heaven.
That is great! Does anyone else have anything to add to what John said about the Atonement? (Open the discussion up to the class. This is also very important again. Always follow up a comment with another question that dives deeper because when you do you will get testimony, experiences, and more comments shared. Remember: you want the class talking more than you are!)
Yes, I have an experience I could share. When I was little I remember I stole a quarter from the change jar, and I remember being very upset for stealing it. I went and told my parents what I had done, and that I was sorry. They forgave me but used the experience to teach me about praying for forgiveness. When I asked forgiveness for stealing the quarter I remember feeling warmth around me telling me that I was forgiven. That was the time I learned how God speaks to me. I remember feeling close to Him, and that was when I new that using the Atonement helps me come closer to God and Jesus Christ.
Thanks for sharing your experience. Using the Atonement in our life is one of the best ways to become closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Okay, Michael what is the scripture you found? (You could go deeper if you feel the Holy Ghost prompting you too, but if not then just move to the next person.)
Mine is when Jesus was asked what the first and greatest commandment is, and that is to “Love the Lord your God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” So, it taught me that one way I can come to know God better is to learn how to love Him with all my heart, soul, and mind.
How do you think you can learn to love Heavenly Father with all your heart, soul, and mind? (Remember that follow up question. Many times the way I implement a comment into a question is just by asking what we learn from it, or why it is important. When you do that then you get heartfelt testimony from the members, even if it is just a one-sentence answer.)
By being grateful, and noticing His hand in my life.
That is a great way to love our Father in Heaven. Gratitude can fill our hearts with love for anyone, but especially for Heavenly Father because He does so much for us. Does anyone have something to add about gratitude? (Again, open the discussion to the class. You may not always get an answer, but it’s better than missing out on an important comment.)
(Silence. Give students about 15 seconds before continuing. Usually someone will have something to add if you wait long enough.)
Sally, what is the scripture you chose?
Mine is 1 John 2:3-5. It talks about how if we keep God’s commandments then we know Him.
Why did that scripture stand out to you? (This question is so simple, yet so powerful. I use it often, and it is effective.)
The scripture just kind of confirmed to me that I do know God because I keep His commandments. Many times I think that maybe I really don’t know Him, but this shows me that really I do.
Thank you for that comment. That got me thinking about what it means to really know someone. Do you guys think that there is a difference between knowing about someone and really knowing someone? (This question was one of my main discussion questions I wanted to cover in the discussion. Because Sally’s answer could easily flow into it I moved onto the question.)
Okay, then what is the difference between knowing about someone and knowing someone? (This can be a question that is followed by silence. Let it! Silence is your friend. Pretty soon someone will speak up.)
There are a lot of kids in school that I know about. I may have heard something someone said about them, or I may have heard them say something, but I don’t really know them. The people I know are my friends, and I have taken the time to ask them questions and get to know them.
What stood out to me in what you said was, “I took the time to ask them question and get to know them”. Really knowing someone takes time and it takes action on both your part and theirs. How can we apply this to knowing our Heavenly Father? (Basing the question off of what stood out to you is a good tactic, and especially reiterating what it was that stood out to you. When something is repeated it shows it is important and helps emphisize the point. Here, I wanted to connect a real-life situation to a spiritual principle. Asking how we apply a real-life thing to a spiritual thing is powerful because it gets the members to think outside of the box, and make connections.)
We can read all about what others have heard about Him, or what they know about Heavenly Father, but until we take the time to ask Him questions and really get to know Him by spending time with Him then we only know about Him. Asking questions, reading the scriptures, and learning how He communicates with us is how we come to know our Father in Heaven.
Exactly! (Teacher bears their testimony, asks for a closing prayer, and then asks the class if they want to discuss this further or move onto another topic.) [The ending is just as important as anything else, if not more important. Here is where you inspire the students to act on what they have learned. An effective way is to ask the student to share something they learned from the lesson next week, or to have them study a little deeper on something and then teach it the next week for 10 minutes or so. Giving the students responsibilities vs. assignments (homework) is the difference in them remembering to do it or forgetting to do it.]