How to develop your questioning skills

Richard Endacott

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Questioning is appearing on most of the career and professional development sheets I have observed for teacher progression.

This list moves through the 6 taxonomy levels with questions for each one. The first three levels are considered lower order questions; the final three levels are considered higher order. Higher order questions are for critical thinking and creative problem-solving.

Each taxonomy level has a short description, a list of keywords that can be used to begin a question, and question starters.

Level 1: Remember – Recalling Information

Keywords: Recognise, List, Describe, Retrieve, Name, Find, Match, Recall, Select, Label, Define, Tell

Question Starters:

• What is…?
• Who was it that…?
• Can you name…?
• Describe what happened after…
• What happened after…?

Level 2:
Understand – Demonstrate an understanding of facts, concepts and ideas

Keywords: Compare, Contrast, Demonstrate, Interpret, Explain, Extend, Illustrate, Infer, Outline, Relate, Rephrase, Translate, Summarise, Show, Classify

Question Starters:

• Can you explain why…?
• Can you write in your own words?
• Write a brief outline of…
• Can you clarify…?
• Who do you think…?
• What was the main idea?

A to B

Level 3:
Apply – Solve problems by applying knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a unique way

Keywords: Apply, Build, Choose, Construct, Demonstrate, Develop, Draw, Experiment with, Illustrate, Interview, Make use of, Model, Organise, Plan, Select, Solve

Question Starters:

• Do you know of another instance where…?
• Demonstrate how certain characters are similar or different?
• Illustrate how the belief systems and values of the characters are presented in the story.
• What questions would you ask of…?
• What choice does … (character) face?

Level 4: Analyse – Breaking information into parts to explore connections and relationships

Keywords: Analyse, Categorise, Classify, Compare, Contrast, Discover, Divide, Examine, Group, Inspect, Sequence, Simplify, Make Distinctions, Relationships, Function, Assume, Conclusions

Question Starters:

• Which events could not have happened?
• If … happened, what might the ending have been?
• How is… similar to…?
• Can you distinguish between…?
• What was the turning point?
• What was the problem with…?
• Why did… changes occur?

teachers discussion

Level 5: Evaluate – Justifying or defending a position or course of action

Keywords: Award, Choose, Defend, Determine, Evaluate, Judge, Justify, Measure, Compare, Mark, Rate, Recommend, Select, Agree, Appraise, Prioritize, Support, Prove, Disprove. Assess, Influence, Value

Question Starters:

• Judge the value of…
• Can you defend the character’s position about…?
• Do you think… is a good or bad thing?
• Do you believe…?
• What are the consequences…?
• Why did the character choose…?
• How can you determine the character’s motivation when…?

Level 6: Create – Generating new ideas, products or ways of viewing things

Keywords: Design, Construct, Produce, Invent, Combine, Compile, Develop, Formulate, Imagine, Modify, Change, Improve, Elaborate, Plan, Propose, Solve

Question Starters:

• What would happen if…?
• Can you see a possible solution to…?
• Do you agree with the actions / with the outcomes?
• What is your opinion of…?
• What do you imagine would have been the outcome if… had made a different choice?
• Invent a new ending.
• What would you cite to defend the actions of…?

By employing great questioning skills in the classroom you are able to really empower students and allow them the opportunity to express their thinking freely and effectively.



About our Community Expert


Richard Endacott

Career Development Lead

Richard is a history Teacher by Training and for the last few years been head of sixth form. His specialism is leadership and career development in the classroom.

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