50 Questions To Help Students Think About What They Think

Author: admin  //  Category: articles

50 Questions To Help Students Think About What They Think

by Lisa Chesser

Using the right questions creates powerful, sometimes multiple answers and discussions. Aristotle said that he asked questions in response to other people’s views, while Socrates focused on disciplined questioning to get to the truth of the matter.

Ultimately questions spark imagination, conjure emotions, and create more questions. The questions asked by a teacher or professor are sometimes more glaringly valuable than the information transferred to the students. Those questions spark a thought, which leads to a fiercely independent search for information.

If students are the ones gathering that information then they’re the ones learning it and student-driven learning cements lessons into the students’ mind making any lesson more powerful with this strategy. Even though the following list of questions are broken into Mathematics, Literature and Science and Social Science, it’s really just a set of philosophically challenging questions that should be applied to any learning environment.

The questions are unrestricted and open the mind up to unfettered thought, perfect for innovation and understanding. The sections begin with Mathematical Questions because for the purpose of this list they’re the most general and therefore the most useful.

Logical Questions

Within the realm of mathematics, there are certain types of questions that build up to those aha moments or topple barriers.  Those are the questions that change a learner forever. They change a person because finally, the answers can only be found within.

The addition of philosophical questioning to mathematics enhances critical thinking in every learner. Basic principles of understanding help create solid ground, but questions build powerful architecture with which structures tower over one another.

Reflection & Collaboration

1. What do you think about what was said?

2. How would you agree or disagree with this?

3. Are there any other similar answers you can think of with alternative routes?

4. Does anyone in this class want to add something to the solution?

5. How might you convince us that your way is the best way?


6. How did you determine this to be true?

7. Why didn’t you consider a different route to the problem?

8. Why does that answer make sense to you?

9. (in response to an answer):…what if I said that’s not true?

10. Is there any way to show exactly what you mean by that?


11. Why do you think this works? Does it always? why?

12. How do you think this is true?

13. Show how you might prove that?

14. Why assume this?

15. How might you argue against this?


16. How might you show the differences and similarities?

17. What patterns might lead you to an alternative answer?

18. How many possibilities can you think of and why?

19. Predict any number of results?


20. How does this relate daily occurrences?

21. Which ideas make the most sense and why?

22. Which problems feel familiar? Why?

23. How does this relate to current events?

24. What kinds of examples make this problem workable?

25. What other problems fit this style or example?

Literary Questions

Buried in every story lives a student’s own life. Anyone can relate to at least one character or dive into at least one plot twist. But, the more foreign a story, the more important the questions should be.

Students may resist the idea that they can relate to certain characters depending on their ethnicity or economic background, but deep, concentrated questions show students the story really isn’t that foreign at all and also guide students to deeper meanings.

The following questions could be applied to any story, no matter how long or short, difficult or easy. Vary them and add to them depending on how the discussion flows.

26. How did any of the characters or events remind you of yourself? Why?

27. How did the character’s actions affect you? Explain.

28. If you were this character, how would the story change?

29. What surprised or confused you about the characters or events? Explain.

30. Why do you think the author wrote from this character’s view?

31. What do you think the author is trying to accomplish?

32. How is the author thinking about the world?

33. How would the story change from another character’s view?

34. Why do you think this story could actually happen, or not?

35. How can this story teach us something about our lives?

36. How do you think the characters resolved the major conflict in the story?

37. How would you have resolved it?

38. How would you change the end of the story and why?

Science and Social Questions

Within the idea of the Scientific Method, the hypothesis stands as the ultimate question. But, there are so many more questions a scientist must ask in order to answer that one question.

The challenging questions, however, make this a universal process streaming into other subject matter and delving into deeper waters. Here are some questions to sink into and use across curriculum as well as within science itself.

39. What’s the purpose for this experiment or argument?

40. Would you elaborate on the purpose of this?

41. What issues or problems do you see here?

42. What evidence or data are given that help make this worthwhile?

43. What are some of the complexities we should consider?

44. What concepts help organize this data, these experiences?

45. How can you justify this information?

46. How can we verify or test that data?

47. What details can you add to make this information feel more complete?

48. Which set of data or information is most relevant or important?

49. How is all of this consistent or inconsistent?

50. How am I seeing or viewing this information? Objectively or subjectively? Should I then change my view?

Ref. http://www.teachthought.com/critical-thinking/questioning/metacognition-50-questions-help-students-think-think/

Five Ways to Help Your Students Become Better Questioners

Author: admin  //  Category: articles, Research

Five Ways to Help Your Students Become Better Questioners

The humble question is an indispensable tool: the spade that helps us dig for truth, or the flashlight that illuminates surrounding darkness. Questioning helps us learn, explore the unknown, and adapt to change.

That makes it a most precious “app” today, in a world where everything is changing and so much is unknown. And yet, we don’t seem to value questioning as much as we should. For the most part, in our workplaces as well as our classrooms, it is the answers we reward — while the questions are barely tolerated.

To change that is easier said than done. Working within an answers-based education system, and in a culture where questioning may be seen as a sign of weakness, teachers must go out of their way to create conditions conducive to inquiry. Here are some suggestions (based on input from question-friendly teachers, schools, programs, and organizations) on how to encourage more questioning in the classroom and hopefully, beyond it.

How to Encourage Questioning

1. Make It Safe

Asking a question can be a scary step into the void. It’s also an admission to the world (and more terrifyingly, to classmates) that one doesn’t know the answer. So teachers must somehow “flip the script” by creating an environment where questioning becomes a strength; where it is welcomed and desired. The Right Question Institute, a nonprofit group that teaches inquiry skills in low-income schools, encourages teachers to run group exercises dedicated entirely to formulating questions (no answers allowed!) — with clear rules and guidelines to ensure that students’ questions aren’t judged or edited, and that all questions are written down and respected. There are many variations on this type of exercise. The second-grade teacher Julie Grimm uses a “10 by 10” exercise, in which kids are encouraged to come up with 10 great questions about a topic during a 10-minute span. But the bottom line is, designate some kind of safe haven in the classroom where all students can freely exercise the “questioning muscle.”

2. Make It “Cool”

This is a tough one. Among many kids, it’s cool to already know — or to not care. But what if we could help students understand that the people who ask questions happen to be some of the coolest people on the planet? As I discovered in the research for my book on inquiry, questioners thought of many of those whiz-bang gadgets we now love. They’re the ones breaking new ground in music, movies, the arts. They’re the explorers, the mavericks, the rebels, making the world a more interesting place — and having a heck of a time themselves. How cool is that?

3. Make It Fun

Part of the appeal of “questions-only” exercises is that there’s an element of play involved, as in: Can you turn that answer/statement into a question? Can you open your closed questions, and close your open ones? There are countless ways to inject a “game” element into questioning, but here’s an example borrowed from the business world: Some companies use a practice called “the 5 whys,” which involves formulating a series of “why” questions to try to get to the root of a problem. Kids were practically born asking “why” questions, so why not allow them to use that innate talent within a structured challenge? Or, show them how to use the “Why/What if/How” sequence of questioning as a fun way to tackle just about any problem. Whatever the approach, let kids tap into their imaginations and innate question-asking skills in ways that make inquiry an engaging part of a larger challenge.

4. Make It Rewarding

Obviously, we must praise and celebrate the questions that are asked — and not only the on-target, penetrating ones, but also the more expansive, sometimes-offbeat ones (I found that seemingly “crazy questions” sometimes result in the biggest breakthroughs). Help create a path for students to get from a question to a meaningful result. A great question can be the basis of an ongoing project, a report, an original creation of some kind. The point is to show that if one is willing to spend time on a question — to not just Google it but grapple with it, share it with others, and build on it — that question can ultimately lead to something rewarding and worthwhile.

5. Make It Stick

If the long-term goal is to create lifelong questioners, then the challenge is to make questioning a habit — a part of the way one thinks. RQI’s Dan Rothstein says it’s important to include a metacognitive stage in question-training exercises wherein kids can reflect on how they’ve used questioning and articulate what they’ve learned about it, so they can “pave a new neural pathway” for lifelong inquiry. As for the behavioral habits associated with good questioning, here are a few: Questioners train themselves to observe everyday surroundings with “vuja de” eyes that see the familiar in fresh ways; they’re always on the lookout for assumptions (including their own) that should be questioned; and they’re willing to ask questions that might be considered “naïve” by others.

So ask yourself this beautiful question: How might I encourage more questioning in my classroom? And how might I instill the habit of questioning in my students? After all, knowing the answers may help them in school, but knowing how to question will help them for life. I look forward to your thougths — and questions! — in the comments area.


Ref: Five Ways to Help Your Students Become Better Questioners