Kristy Dowd and Troy Snyder
Weatherford High School
Feb. 21, 2011
“Questions, not answers are at the
heart of education” (Dennis
“I have no answers, only
questions” (Socrates c. 300 BC).
“An unanswered question is a fine
travelling companion. It sharpens
your eye for the road” (Rachel
Naomi Remen, M.D.).
As An Instructional
As an Assessment Tool?
Research states that effective questioning strategies
have a positive impact on overall student
Knowing how to think to extend the mind beyond the
obvious and develop creative solutions to problems
should be the outcome of a good education.
Our thinking skills affect how well we can receive and
process new information.
“To question well is to teach well” (Wilen, 1991)
North American children fall short in this
critical skill. Studies show that teachers
ask students limiting questions. Research
reports that 75 to 80 percent of the
questions posed in elementary and
secondary classrooms are at the recall
level or memory level.
Teachers say that they teach by asking
questions but they can’t describe the types of
questions that they ask.
Teachers frequently say that all questions
have merit but that’s not the case with
teacher questions. The content of the
question and the manner in which teachers
ask them determines whether or not they are
Contributes to learning
Sparks further questions and interest in seeking
Involves critical and creative thinking
Goes beyond recall of basic information
Provides challenge but is not too threatening
Is appropriate to the learning situation and the
Builds on prior knowledge and makes
Involves students in reflection and/or planning
The purpose of critical thinking is to achieve
understanding, evaluate view points, and solve
problems. Since all three areas involve the asking
of questions, we can say that critical thinking is the
questioning or inquiry we engage in when we seek
to understand, evaluate or resolve.
Critical thinkers: distinguish between fact and
opinion; ask questions; make detailed observations;
uncover assumptions and define their terms; and
make assertions based on sound logic and solid
Maybe the question should be “Can children be
taught to think more effectively?”
A skilfully orchestrated question and
answer session causes a chain
effect, in which, the instructor and
students can journey from simple
factual inquiries to an insightful
exchange of information, ideas and
realizations. As an instructor’s ability
to engage the learner, and
incorporate questioning techniques
into the classroom increases, so will
the opportunity of teachable
The griney grollers
grangled in the
What kind of grollers were they?
2. What did the grollers do?
3. Where did they do it?
4. In what kind of gak did they grangle?
5. In one sentence, explain why-the grollers were
grangling in the granchy gak.
6. If you had to grangle in a granchy gak, what one
item would you choose to have with you and why?
Students can answer low-level questions
Students enter/exit classrooms with no more
understanding of what they’ve learned than
“The Griney Groller” taught you!
QUILT – questioning and understanding to improve
learning and thinking. This program was developed to
enhance student learning by improving teachers’
classroom questioning techniques.
During 1991-92, the QUILT program was classroom
tested in 13 school districts with more than 1,200
The QUILT program claims to show an increase in
teacher understanding of effective classroom
questioning and a corresponding use of effective
questioning practices along with an increase in student
QUILT is on PD 360. (Elementary and Secondary
Stage 1: Preparing the question:
Identify the instructional purpose
› Recitation vs. Discussion
Determine content focus
› Worth being familiar
› important to know and do
› Enduring Understanding
Select cognitive level
› Bloom’s Taxonomy: Higher level ≠ Better
› Critical Thinking Strategies Guide
› Cognitive level of question and cognitive level of Student
› Considerations - Developmental level of students,
Select wording and context
› Clear , simple, Appropriate
› No double barrelled question.
› typically begin with do, is, can, could, will, would, shall or should and
usually have only one response. Used to recall information and
assess the prior and post activity knowledge of the students.
Open Ended Questions:
› usually begins with who, what, when, where, or how.
› useful to stimulate group discussion.
› may be many different responses.
Higher Level Questions
› require students to work out answers rather than memorize them.
› give the student a license to explore the possibilities.
› Bloom categorizes higher level questions into three categories:
analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
› encourage students to think more deeply and critically, to problem
solve, inspire discussions and stimulate students to seek information
on their own.
Here is an example of questions used with a
simple source, the nursery rhyme Little Boy
Blue, during a Primary environmental study.
Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn,
The sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the
Where is the boy who looks after the sheep?
He’s under the haystack, fast asleep.
Knowledge (Remembering): In this picture, what is the color
of the boy’s coat?
Comprehension (Understanding): Can you describe his coat
in your own words?
Application (Solving): Do you know someone like Little Boy
Analysis (Reasoning): Why might he have fallen asleep?
Synthesis (Creating): How he will explain to the farmer how
the cow got into the corn?
Evaluation (Judging): Why does it matter if he falls asleep if
no one ever finds out?
Stage 2: Presenting the question:
Indicate response format
Ask the question
› How do students respond (orally, written, both?
› How do they signal their responses?
› Do students understand the format?
› Are students actively listening?
› Do students understand the question?
Who? Cooperative responses?
Do all students have equal opportunities?
Are questions directed or undirected?
Are respondents designated ahead of time?
Are high and low achievers selected equally to
answer equally difficult questions?
Supply Your Bat Belt
Stage 3: Prompt student responses:
Pause after asking question
› Wait Time I – length of time a teacher pauses after asking
Assist non respondent
› Use lower level questions to prompt
› Connection Association
› Notify students ahead of time
Pause following student response
› Wait time II – the time a teacher waits after a pupil’s
response after to either comment or ask another question
Stage 4: Responding to student responses:
Provide appropriate feedback
› How do you react?
Positive, appropriate, provide students
opportunities to correct own mistakes,
leave all students with correct answer.
Expand and use correct responses
› Do students expand on correct answers?
Are they amplified, reused in the lesson,
are questions redirected for alternate
Elicit student reactions and questions
› Do students create questions? What is your classroom
Stage 5: Critiquing the questioning period:
Analyze the questions
› How do you access your own question, align
your questions with your objective, what kind of
questions did students respond...
Map respondent selection
› How where they selected, demographics, what
format did they respond to....
Evaluate student response patterns
› How complete were responses, was wait I and II
Examine teacher and student reactions.
› What type of feedback was given, were
responses expanded on, did students initiate
Reasons for students to develop their own
Increases motivation to learn
Improves comprehension and retention
Encourages creativity and innovation
Teaches how to think and learn
Provides a basis for problem solving and
1. Pose the question first, before asking the student to
2. Allow plenty of think time by waiting at least 3 5seconds.
3. Make sure you give all students the opportunity to
respond rather than relying on
volunteers. Create a system to help you keep track
of who you call on.
4. Hold students accountable by expecting and
facilitating their participation and
5. Never answer your own questions. Do not accept
“I Don’t Know”.
Establish a safe environment
After asking the question, the instructor would remove
himself from the center of attention.
› pause after a question.
› direct correlation between pause time and quality of
› Higher level questions require time for students to
formulate answers. Longer response time will foster a
climate for students to become critical thinkers.
When a student asks the instructor a question the
instructor should redirect the question to the class.
Let’s compare these two pictures. (instead of
What do you predict will happen when…?
(instead of think)
How can you classify? (instead of group)
Let’s analyze this problem. (instead of work this
What conclusions can you draw? (instead of
what did you think)
Indicators that Instructional Methods Are Paying
Listening to Others with Understanding and
Flexibility in Thinking
Learners are active and in continuous dialogue with teacher
Learning is constructing, not feeding
Truth is discovered, not delivered
Teacher “leads from behind”
Teacher functions as facilitator/mentor instead of lecturer
Questions are answered with explanations or questions, not
simply “yes or no”
Questions rarely have one right answer
Pertinent discussions on related issues often break out
Debate is common
Peers exchange ideas
Learner and teacher satisfaction increases
Teachers often face questions for which there are no answers
Social interaction and acceptance in the class is generally high
› What are the attributes of______?
› How would you describe_____to a friend?
› How can you illustrate________?
› How can you sort___________?
› Combine several strategies and show how
you would solve__________?
› How do we know we have found the
› Describe what _________looks like.
› Why does ________ work?
› Predict what you think will happen.
› Design a new way to___________.
› What would happen if you skipped a
step in the experiment?
› What is the result of this investigation?
White Hat (information/facts)
Green Hat (creation/ new ideas/
Yellow Hat (positives/benefits/
Black Hat (judgements/disadvanatges/
Red Hat ( emotions/feelings)
Blue Hat (organization of thinking)
All The Best
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