Questioning challenges students and teachers to use good questions as a way to open conversations and further intellectual inquiry. Effective questioning (by the teacher and by students) deepens classroom conversations and the level of discourse students apply to their work. Teachers use this strategy to create opportunities for students to investigate and analyze their thinking as well as the thinking of their peers and the authors that they read in each of their classes.
- Helps student practice thinking our loud
- Provides a way for students to engage with content and each other
- Empowers students to develop college-level discussion skills
- Promotes student-to-student interaction
- Encourages critical thinking skills
- Creates opportunities to connect learning with real-life experiences and prior knowledge
- keep questioning focused and on topic
- use wait time and pacing to encourage all students to engage
- ask questions of varying difficulty from basic remembering to higher levels of critical thinking like evaluating and creating
- encourage student-to-student questioning as well as student-to-teacher questioning
- use questioning as a formative assessment to gauge where students are in their understanding of the topic
- learn from each other's questions to construct new knowledge
- engage in questioning at various levels of increasing difficulty
- make connections to prior knowledge and experience
- work collaboratively to develop higher-level questions
- become active and reflective listeners and speakers
Tips For Effective Questioning:
- Tie questions to the student, the text, and the world
- Use a variety of formats to engage all students in answering questions
- Set protocols for classroom questioning that give opportunities for all students to ask and answer
- Model questoin generating and thinking out loud
- Encourage follow-up questions and feedback
- Assist students who struggle with a question by using rephrasing, prompting, and cueing methods
- Make questions succinct by using a simple format and the fewest number of words
- Make questoins clear so students can translate them into their own language
- Encourage students to build off of other students' questions and answers
- Prepare quality questions that help students think about, internalize, and utilize information productively
Using Powerful Questions in Classroom Discussion
From: Peter Weyler, University Park Campus School
1. Look for new ideas – It’s nice to be the expert on a particular text or topic, but it can be liberating to relinquish that role. I have texts I’ve taught for many years and students are still showing me new connections and new ways of seeing them. The highest compliment I pay in my classroom is, “I’ve never seen it that way before.”
2. Let students have time to think – Let a good question hang in the air a moment. Revisit questions that need more exploration.
3. Let students speak for themselves – If you repeat what students say, you’re teaching them not to listen to each other, and not to speak to each other. Instead of repeating, ask students to speak up, or ask another student to rephrase what a classmate has said.
4. Let students answer each other’s questions – Don’t be too quick to offer an answer. Throw the question back out to the rest of the class. Student-generated questions can be the most powerful of all.
5. Require students to justify their responses – This encourages students to think more carefully and makes them communicate more effectively. This is the same thing we’re looking for in their writing.
6. Let students evaluate each other’s responses – We all want to encourage students, but when you affirm one answer you may be discouraging another. Instead of saying “exactly” or “very good”, try asking another student what he or she thinks. This takes some getting used to, but ultimately it empowers students and leads to richer discussion.
7. Be direct when you wish to share an insight of your own – Sharing your own interpretation can be excellent modeling. Just be up front about it; don’t pretend to ask open-ended questions when you are really trying to lead them to your conclusion.
Bloom vs. Costa
Levels of Critical Thinking
Bloom's Taxonomy and Costa's Levels of Critical Thinking are the two most prominent research-based questioning frameworks. Costa's approach simplifies Bloom's into three levels of critical thinking. Bloom's framework has 6-7 levels of questioning. Good teachers know how to use scaffolding within questioning and discussions to reach students at their current level and push their level of thinking gradually higher.
Costa's Question Stems
One of the ways to help prompt teachers and students to ask higher order questions is through the use of question stems. Many teachers will take off the lower level from Costa's Levels of Critical Thinking Skills Question Stems to encourage the use of Level #2 and Level #3 questions (higher order thinking skills).
Technology - Questioning and classroom talk/collaboration can now be practiced in classrooms without students speaking through back-channel discussion boards, interactive discussion boards, Google docs, etc. Many students who typically don't speak out in class will often feel more comfortable being able to communicate their thoughts and ideas through the use of technology.
Socratic Seminar is one of the high engagement instructional practices that encourages questioning within the classroom.