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Working Towards a Thinking

What is a good
question? What are we
looking for
When do we
when children
ask questions? answer
When are questioning skills important
outside of school? What does a good
question do?
From Studies done in classrooms

1 every 2/3 seconds

They tend to be RECALL questions rather

than questions requiring higher level thought.
One at a No put
time downs
All ideas
considered Build on
ideas of

challenges of
Feels Like
My questions will be valued
I am comfortable to ask a question that
challenges a point of view
My peers will respond courteously
when I ask a question
I respect different views
I am confident to ask left-of-field

Sounds Like Looks Like

Students taking initiative for asking Listening attentively to questions
questions Engaging with each others
Different types of questions being responses
asked Teachers and students asking
Responding positively to each questions
others questions. Consideration given to responses
A range of responses being given Think time being used
to a question An ideas centred discussion rather
Seeking clarification or more detail than a teacher or student centred
Questions being sustained one.
A questioning friendly A questioning-friendly
classroom is a place where: classroom is not a place where:

Different responses to a Student responses to

question are encouraged questions are put down
Students build on each others Teachers are seen as the
responses question-askers and students
Students are prepared to as the question-answerers
challenge or contest a Students recited a response to
response a question rather than discuss
Students take risks and offer it
divergent ideas and opinions Students are concerned with
Students generate questions expressing their viewpoint
for discussions. rather than responding to
what someone else has said.
Classroom Discussion Structures

Engage with teacher

Teacher Centred Aim to get to some
teacher-decided idea
Teacher asks a
question or evaluates
idea after every
student comment
Teachers helps direct
students to the
answers so they
make progress
Classroom Discussion Structures

Engage with each

Student Centred other
Aim is all students
Each comment is
usually on a different
point so little progress
Aim is to get an
Some students try to
dominate or it
becomes a debate so
little progress
Classroom Discussion Structures

Students engage with

Inquiry Community student ideas
Students make
connections &
distinctions, critically
evaluate, challenge
and build
Teacher and students
ensure the inquiry is
rigorous, so they
make progress
Better and worse
Look at the big questions - the
underlying concepts

Example One:
What is a number?
Are numbers created or discovered?
Could numbers be different to how they
are now?
Look at the big questions - the
underlying concepts

Example Two:
What is fitness?
What is health?
Is fitness the same or different to health?
Look at the big questions - the
underlying concepts

Example Three:
What is knowledge?
What does it mean to know something?
Is all knowledge the same?
Look at the important questions - the
questions we should strive to answer
and are central to our lives

Example: Friendship
What does it mean to be a good friend?
How shall I treat my friends?
How can I be a better friend?
Look at challenging questions - when we
know that children will not know the
answer or even how to find out the

Example: Petone Foreshore

Who should have the rights over the
foreshore in Petone?
Single answer or limited
Closed number of answers
eg What is 6x6? How did you
Convergent travel to school?

Many possible answers and not

Open only one correct answer
eg How could the school
Divergent assemblies be improved?

Little explanation required

Skinny Requires recall, knowledge and
Simple comprehension
eg What makes a healthy lunch?

Requires a degree of
Fat explanation and interpretation
Complex How could you encourage
children to eat healthier lunches?
Training kids into thinking question
Use questioning frameworks to help
extend types of questions

Improvement Direct Action

What are the How do we feel about...
weaknesses and how and what are the
can we improve it? dangers?

Explanation Design
What do we know and
How can we make our
what are the possible
environment better?
Caution How do we feel? What do
What are the possible we know? What can we do
dangers? about it? What is the

What are the good Evaluation
points and how can we How well did you do...
summarise them?
Event Situation Choice Person Reason Means

Present What is?
when is?
Which is? Who is? Why is? How is?

Past What did?
when did?
Which did? Who did? Why did? How did?

Possibility What can?
when can?
Which can? Who can? Why can? How can?

What Where/ Which

Probability would? when would? would?
Who would? Why would? How would?

Prediction What will?
when will?
Which will? Who will? Why will? How will?

Where/ Which
Imagination What might? when might? might?
Who might? Why might? How might?

Strategic Questions Elaborating Questions

What do I do next? What does this mean?

How can I best approach this next What might it mean if certain
step?, This next challenge? This conditions and
next frustration? circumstances changed?
What thinking tool is most apt to How could I take this farther?
help me here?
What is the logical next step?
What have I done when I've been What is missing? What
here before? What worked or didn't
work? What have others tried needs to be filled in?
before me? Reading between the lines,
What type of question would help what does this REALLY
me most with this task? mean?
How do I need to change my What are the implied or
research plan? suggested meanings?
Ask less questions Thinking Time
and make them challenging

Wait 3 seconds after asking


Wait 3 seconds after question


Move from the teacher as a
questioner who sifts through answers
looking for the correct one

us a li you tell
about le more
that id

The teacher treating each response How e l s e c ould

t hi n k a bout
by a child as an opportunity to we
improve their thinking - being a
coach for thinking!
Strategy Description Application
Show your students you are
Demonstrate interested in their response. Initial
response may be fragmented or
Use non-verbal signals such
as facial expressions, a nod,
listening disjointed as students grapple to
clarify their ideas.
eye contact, sitting forward

Use probes that encourage Does anyone have a different

Sustain the clarification, extension or
elaboration of a response.
opinion? Could you tell us a little
more about that idea? Can you
Question Encourage a range of responses
to the one question.
provide some evidence to
support your view?
Learn to be comfortable with
Allow wait the silences so that wait time
Use affirmative non-verbal
signals that show engagement
is extended. Tell students why
time you are waiting.
and provide encouragement.

Affirm student responses but Thats an interesting point of

Minimise avoid excessive praise which view. Yes, thats one way. Can
may silence alternative anyone add to that? Thank
feedback responses. you for that idea.
Redirect student responses or Would anyone like to respond
comments. Breaking the sequence
to that idea? What can you
Vacate the floor makes students aware that talk
doesnt always have to be directed
add to that response? How
consistent is that response
through the teacher and
encourages student dialogue. with what you think?
Judge of a man by his questions
rather than by his answers.

Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

It is better to know some of the

questions than all of the answers.

James Thurber (1894 - 1961)