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Strategies for Effective Questioning

1. Anticipate Student Thinking

2. Link to Learning Goals

Learning goals stem from the curriculum expectations. These expectations inform teachers about the questions to ask and the problems to pose.


Big Idea: The same object can be described by using different measurements.

Learning goal: To make a connection between length, width, area and multiplication.

Sample Problem: A rectangle has an area of 36 cm2. Draw the possible rectangles.

Possible Questions to Ask Students:

  • As you consider the shapes you made, what are the connections of the length of the sides to the total area?

  • If you know the shape is a rectangle, and you know the total area and the length of one side, what ways can you think of to figure out the length of the other three sides?

3. Pose Open Questions

4. Pose Questions that Actually Need to be Answered

Ask students questions that allow them to engage in their own reasoning.

Non-Example: Doesn’t a square have four sides?

Example: What is the relationship between the side of a square and its perimeter?

5. Incorporate Verbs that Elicit Higher Levels of Bloom's Taxonomy

6. Pose Questions to Open Up the Conversation to Include Others

Ask questions that will lead to group and/or class discussions about how the solution relates to prior and new learning. Conversations should not only occur between the teacher and the student, but also between students within the classroom learning community.

Non-Example: What do we add together to get the perimeter of a rectangle?

Example: Other than adding all four sides of a rectangle together, what are some alternative ways that you can find the perimeter of a rectangle?

7. Keep Questions Neutral

8. Provide Wait Time

When teachers allow for a wait time of three seconds or more after a question, there is generally a greater quantity and quality of student responses.