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Growing Thinking Schools From the Inside Out 6 Starting Points. Collaborative networking. Visual Mapping. Thinking skills. Developing dispositions. Reflective questioning. Structuring environment. Why are we asking the question below?.

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Growing Thinking Schools

From the Inside Out


6 Starting Points

Collaborative networking

Visual Mapping

Thinking skills

Developing dispositions

Reflective questioning

Structuring environment


Why are we asking the question below?

What are the purposes of asking pupils questions ?


Consider the following outcomes for students from teachers’ use of quality questioning articulated by Jackie Acree Walsh and Beth DankertSattes (2011, p.3):

  • Focus their thinking on specified content knowledge
  • Use cognitive processing strategies to develop deep understandings and long-term retention of content
  • Askquestions to clarify or extend understandings
  • Monitor progress (toward learning targets through self-assessment and use of formative feedback)
  • Develop personal response-ability by using structural supports for thinking
  • Contribute positively to the creation of a classroom learning community in which thinking is valued

Developing Effective

Questioning Practices

  • “Effective use of questioning is a critical asset in every good teacher’s toolbox. But just as a good mechanic selects the right tool for the job and uses it correctly, a good teacher uses questions at the right level and follows good questioning techniques.”
  • William G Camp
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

“If you should ever be charged in actual fact

with the upbringing and education

of these imaginary children of yours,

so you will make a law

that they must devote themselves especially

to the technique

of asking and answering questions.”

- Plato’s Republic

Wait time is essential to the development of higher order thought processes when pupils are asked to answer a questions.

It is the amount of time that elapses between a teacher asking a question and asking pupils to answer.

The average teacher’s wait time is 1 second!

'Wait time'

Wait time is essential to the development of higher order thought processes when pupils are asked to answer a questions.

It is the amount of time that elapses between a teacher asking a question and asking pupils to answer.

‘Wait time’

Are you aware that…

The ‘average’ teacher asks c. 400 questions a day, allowing less than a second for an answer,before throwing the question to someone else, or answering it themselves.

Steven Hastings TES, 04/07/2003


Developing Effective Questioning Practices

  • Research shows overwhelmingly that:
  • Teachers use memory questions in over 70% of their teaching time;
  • Teachers overemphasise fact questions in

tests and exams;

  • Questions in textbooks are predominantly

memory or fact questions.

KarronG Lewis ~ Centre for Teaching Effectiveness,

  • University of Texas
  • A review of 37 projects in 1988 suggested that increasing the proportion of higher-order questions to 50% brought significant improvement in student attitude and performance
  • Source: Steven Hastings TES, 04/07/2003

Blooming Thinking
















Developing Effective

Questioning Practices

“If we expect pupils to engage in more creative and stimulating thought processes, we, as teachers must encourage them by asking higher level questions.”

Karron G Lewis ~ Centre for Teaching Effectiveness,

University of Texas

Purposeful (asked to achieve a specific purpose)

Phrased clearly (pupils understand what they mean)

Brief (stated in as few words as possible)

Thought provoking (they stimulate thought and response)

Probing (involve follow-on or leading questions and ‘digging deeper’)

Limited in scope (multiple part questions are confusing)

Adapted to the level of the class (appropriate and differentiated)

Art Costa and Bena Kallick

Effective questions are:

Plan your questions, however…

Be prepared to ask follow up questions that are logical and sequential

Decide if the question is directed at the whole class, a group or an individual

Pose questions that allow the pupils to have ‘thinking time’

Balance your questions between fact and thought

Ask questions in a conversational tone

Design questions that elicit sustained responses

Other Possible Effective and Engaging Questioning Practices…

Stop asking so many questions yourself!

Expect pupils to pose more questions both spoken and written

Encourage pupils to question other pupils during discussion

Welcome questions when they come

Give time to allow students to pose follow up questions

Collect, discuss, categorise and develop pupils’ questions

Other Possible Practices To Stimulate Students’ Questioning


Questions that develop Bloom's levels of thinking

Level of Thinking and Questioning




Complex Questions


Combining information to create something new

Invent Produce

Design Compose

Invent Construct


How could we design…?

Could we add …?

What would happen if …?


Making judgements and assessments and coming to conclusions

Rank Conclude

Evaluate Assess

Decide check

Why do you think about…?

Why do you prefer this?

What is the best …?


Break into parts to examine more closely and understand relationships

Compare Contrast

Classify Order

Examine Analyse

How are they similar/different?

How does it work ...?

What is the evidence …?


Applying knowledge to a new situation or experience

Show Use

Apply Construct


What other examples are there of this?


Rephrasing and interpreting to show understanding

Restate Explain

Interpret Translate

Summarise infer

What does this mean?

What is the point?

Can you explain …?

Simple Questions


Factual answers, recall and recognition

Repeat Name

Recall State

List Count


What …?





Isidor Rabi (1898 – 1988), a Nobel Prize winner in Physics, is reported to have said that when he was at school, his mother did not ask him at the end of the day what he had learnt, but what questions he had asked.

“The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will readily answer, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer.”

- Alice Wellington Rollins (1847 – 1897)


Responding to pupils' questions

Analyse the question ~ What do you mean by…?

Rephrase the question ~ Are you saying …?

Turn the question back to the pupil ~ What do you think?

Ask a supporting question ~ I wonder whether …?

Suggest a line of enquiry ~ Perhaps we could …


“Children often come into school adept at asking questions but leave 13 years later with a much atrophied question-asking muscle.”

Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana

Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask their Own Questions, 2011