Just 2 questions

A strategy, a tweet, and a couple of questions. Plus, 7 other things worth your time.

Quick note before we get started—I think maybe another comment thread would be a good idea for tomorrow. If there’s a question you’d like members of the Understandably community to answer, just reply to this email. Maybe we’ll use it.


Speaking of questions, meet Andre Sasser, a high school and middle school math teacher in Rapides Parish, Louisiana.

Schools are closed there for the rest of the year, much as they are in many other parts of the country. But a while back, Sasser shared a simple suggestion for how to get kids to interact in class.

I've found it insanely useful ever since. She said she used to end lectures by asking, “Do you have any questions?” or even the common improvement, “What questions do you have?”

But then, she switched to telling her students that as a group, they were required to: “Ask me two questions.”

That changed everything. Sasser tweeted about the idea, and the whole thing went completely vir—sorry, I mean it got a ton of engagement (largely because Jack Dorsey saw it and retweeted it).

I wrote about this not long after she posted, and I was thinking now that with so many parents suddenly having to double as teachers for their kids, it might be useful.

There are times over the last two years I’ve given classes or talks and copied it verbatim—with very good results. I’ve also just had it in the back of my mind during conversations, as a reminder to ask for the engagement I’d hoped to see.

Anyway, it works. First, it’s an implicit bargain with the audience (we’re all going to stand here awkwardly until you give me at least two questions), and also because it then creates an environment in which one question prompts another.

It also shows vulnerability, which creates connection. Next thing you know, you have a real discussion.

There’s a bit of irony, in that Sasser told me she’s been asking herself a question—she said she knows she picked up the “two questions” idea at a professional development conference for teachers called Twitter Math Camp.

But she can’t remember exactly who shared it with her to begin with: "It's killing me inside, that I'm viral now and I don't even know who really told me that to begin with,” she said.

7 other things worth your time

  • Paul Manafort had a pretty good Wednesday: released from prison two years into his seven year sentence, to serve the rest of his time in home confinement due to coronavirus. The big question is how much differently he’s being treated since he was President Trump’s campaign manager. (CBS News)

  • With college up in the air, and universities starting to talk seriously about being online-only in the fall, should rising freshman consider a gap year? Definitely. Maybe. (The Washington Post, $)

  • This is rough: an international airline trade association says it doesn't think the airlines and traffic will recover for at least five years. (Bloomberg, via MSN)

  • A federal judge is putting the dismissal of charges against Michael Flynn on hold, and asked a retired judge to examine whether Flynn might have committed perjury. (Law and Crime)

  • Amid threats or at least predictions of violence against the governor of Michigan, armed militia groups say they plan to protest against the continuing lockdown order in their state Thursday. (The Guardian, via Yahoo)

  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the governor’s extension of his state’s stay-at-home order. (Madison.com)

  • Um… Americans drank 55 percent more alcohol during the last month, according to a report, and 36 percent of Americans said they used more marijuana or prescription opioids. (McClatchy)

Photo via Pixabay. I wrote about the 2 question idea a few years ago on Inc.com. If you liked this post, and you’re not yet a subscriber, please sign up for the daily Understandably.com email newsletter, with more than 3,500 5-star ratings from happy readers. (You can also just send an email to signup@understandably.com)


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