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Questioning

Igniting the Fire: Strategies for Helping Students  

If we want students to think, we must hold back from thinking for them. It is easy to tell them what to do, but it is more beneficial to help them figure it out for themselves. One of the most effective ways of pushing students is through the questions we ask in response to their questions or errors.

Below are some prompts that help students think instead of focusing only on right answers or being told how to do things. Most can be adapted to any academic discipline.

 

  1. What are the questions? What do you have to find out?
  2. What do you know that will help you? If you have no information, where can you find some?
  3. Can you close your eyes and visualize?
  4. Can you represent that somehow so I can see what you see?
  5. What is the next step?
  6. Can you show us?
  7. Stop there! Let’s record what you just said.
  8. How can I write that?
  9. Can you give me an equation?
  10. Are you done?
  11. What was the question you started with? Have you answered it?
  12. Is the answer reasonable?
  13. Did anyone think about this differently?
  14. Is there another way to think about this?
  15. What do you think would happen if...
  16. I saw Alex do this...what do you think about that?
  17. What do you think Tayesha was thinking?
  18. Do you agree with him/her?
  19. Are there any questions for her?
  20. Why do you think they have different answers?
  21. What do you think went wrong?
  22. Is there another question we could ask?
  23. What does (or could) this represent?
  24. Are you telling me that...?
  25. Does that mean the same thing as...?
  26. Can you say it a different way?
  27. How can they both be right?
  28. How are the solutions alike? Different?
  29. Can you explain what Laura did?
  30. Why?
  31. What if...?
  32. Suppose that...
  33. Can you give an example of...?
  34. Can you think of an example that disproves this?
  35. Do you see a pattern?
  36. Is this always true?
  37. How do you know?
  38. I’m not sure. Convince me that what you just said is true.
  39. What do you think? Why do you think so?
  40. Why does that make (or not make) sense?
  41. Tell me how...
  42. How many agree? Disagree?
  43. Can you think of other approaches we’ve used? Would any be helpful here?
  44. Summarize what you found out in no more than three sentences (or six words), please.
  45. If you could only make one statement, what would it be?
  46. What would the next one be?
  47. What would the nth one be?
  48. Can you think of a rule that would help us find any number?
  49. Why do you like (or dislike)?
  50. What else have we done that is similar to this?