I was sick all weekend. I always get sick when I have a day off. I always complain about always getting sick on my days off, because it’s just so darned ironic that on the one day I don’t have to go to work and can actually do anything I want to all day long, I end up getting stuck at home in bed wishing I could just puke already and get it over with.Cathy!

I think there are multiple Ziggy cartoons dealing with this topic, and possibly a few Cathy‘s, which makes me feel better about dedicating a paragraph of my own professional blog to the matter. That Cathy just always says the darndest things! And they’re so true! It makes me feel a little better about myself just looking at her picture.

Anyway, I just have the worst luck with the getting sick and vacations. Oh yeah–there are probably also some Charlie Browns that deal with this. I mean Peanuts.

Anyway, today was ketchup. Catsup. Catch up. Last Thursday when I was off gallivanting with the lovely ladies of high school English teaching at that teaching writing conference, you the students were here, hard at work, reading a section from Catcher in the Rye and completing a storyboard for the section. Well, it turns out that most people didn’t have enough time to either read the section or make a real go at the storyboarding, so we spent most of today with that.

For the remainder of the time we started a discussion about questions. My goal for this part of the class is for students to be able to generate and answer their own high-quality questions about the literature we’re studying. But this whole issue about types of questions can be very confusing–I know it was to me in college when a teacher first introduced us to this issue, although we called it by its fancy college name, “heuristics.” It has always been hard for me to wrap my brain around the different types of questions.

So, for today, we started very simple: What is the difference between an open-ended and a close-ended question? What are some examples of each?

I didn’t have a big fancy definition in mind, but the classes did just fine coming up with their own. Basically, we decided, a close-ended question is one in which the teacher (or whoever the “asker” is) has a particular answer in mind. Now, this is a philosophically profound definition, if you think about it, simultaneously affirming the existence of actual answers to questions while subtly undermining the universality, or absoluteness, of said answer. Notice that the “asker” doesn’t necessarily know the answer to a close-ended question, but they certainly do believe that there is one particular correct answer somewhere out there.

Open-ended questions are another beast entirely. These questions, we decided, may have multiple correct answers. Most classes wanted also to include in this category questions with no correct answers, which may be a little bit of a stretch, although if you think about the term open-ended, what could fit better in that category than a question with no answer. Yet. No answer, yet. Very important, that “yet.”

Anyway, this discussion was more fun than two buckets of monkeys, but it pails –I mean pales in comparison to the fun we’ll have discussing and illustrating other classes of questions tomorrow. More questions, then.



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