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Magazine Issue 15: Questions for Learning
September 2011

This month ideas about and techniques for questioning

Article: Questions for Learning
New Resources
Mike's Books
Additional Resources

This Month's Article:

Questions for Learning

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Questions for Learning An Article that describes many different sorts of questions and then organises them into 4 basic categories. Also includes a teacher-self-check: How's your questioning shaping up?

This is a Free Sample Resource

Categories: Article, Thinking Skills, Any Subject, Educators

Tags: Questioning Bloom's Taxonomy
Children start school as question marks and leave as full stops.
Cited by American educator Neil Postman

What is a question? What are questions for? How can we use them to enrich learning?

A question is a request for information that causes the answerer to think. That’s pretty simple. But it gets more complicated (and more interesting) when we dig deeper and find that there are many different types of question each with specific uses and requiring different levels of thinking. Researchers at Newcastle University, England identified over 50 frameworks for thinking. It’s a small step to propose these as 50 frameworks for questionning. Here are just two:

Bloom’s Taxonomy presents 6 types of thinking hierarchically (e.g. synthesis above knowledge; evaluation over synthesis). Each type can be activated by specific questions (e.g. What? When? Who? activate Knowledge; What if? activates synthesis.

Jamie McKenzie lists 17 types of question in his Questionning Toolkit. He includes ‘essential questions’ that are central to life and living (e.g. How should I treat other people?); strategic questions (How can we best solve this problem?); unanswerable ones (How will I be remembered?) and provocatives (What’s the point of all this?).

So it’s a reasonable deduction to make that every type of thinking has a set of questions that cause it, and that every thinking framework has a framework of questions linked to it. Fortunately the Newcastle researchers rationalised their 50 thinking frameworks into a simple 4-part ‘meta-framework’: a coherent structure through which thinking frameworks could be analysed, compared and contrasted - 

1. Information Gathering
Sensing (seeing, hearing,
touching)
Retrieval (memory skills) 
 2. Basic Understanding
Organising information
Forming concepts
Linking ideas
3. Productive Thinking
Using ideas/understanding
Creating, deciding
Analysing, evaluating 
 4. Strategic/Reflective - Thinking about 1, 2 and 3

By causally linking questions to thinking we can also have a simple 4-part ‘meta-framework’ for questions. Hurray!:

 1. Information Questions
What? When? Who?
What do I know?
What do I remember?
2. Basic Questions
How does it fit in?
How does it link to what I
know already?
 3. Productive Questions
What if? How? Why?
Which is better? Best?
How does it work? How can I use it?
4. Strategic/Reflective questions - Which questions should I use? Which questions are best here?

Asking a range of questions activates a range of thinking. This in turn leads to effective learning because a mind occupied by productive thought is a mind that’s changing and growing (i.e. learning!). The responsibility falls to us educators to manage classroom questions that maximise thinking and learning.

Here’s a progression for thinking about teacher questioning skills: Where would you place yourself?

1. Teacher presents answers with little or no opportunity for pupils to ask for clarification or further
information.

2. Teacher presents information and asks lower order questions such as what?, where?,
when?

3. Teacher presents starting points/prompts and leads pupils to answers through a range of connected questions.

4. Teacher presents starting points/prompts; activates pupils’ own questions and supports them in finding answers/ further questions.

Asking questions that skilfully guide pupils to ‘treasured hidden knowledge’ makes for an engaging lesson. But it’s still a lesson firmly in the hands of the teacher. Why not activate pupils’ own questions and support their independence in seeking answers, providing your expert knowledge only when you judge it necessary.

New Resources:

Glass Bead Thinking

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Glass Bead Thinking A Thinking Skills Tool inspired by the novel the Glass Bead Game. Requires high level group work and high order thinking. Apart from that, pretty straightforward.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Creative Thinking, Thinking Skills, Creativity, Any Subject, Secondary, Tertiary

Tags: Glass Bead Game High Order Thinking
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Glass Bead Thinking Powerpoint

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Glass Bead Thinking Powerpoint A Thinking Tool Template in Powerpoint, with suggestions and extensions of the Glass Bead Thinking Tool. Inspired by the novel the Glass Bead Game. Requires high level group work and high order thinking.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Creative Thinking, Thinking Skills, Any Subject, Secondary, Tertiary

Tags: Glass Bead Game High Order Thinking
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.


Infuse thinking by the way you teach content.

Music Think Sheet - Exploring Musical Ideas

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Music Think Sheet - Exploring Musical Ideas A Think Sheet using Thinking Classroom ideas to explore, combine and organise musical ideas.

Categories: Think Sheet, Music, Secondary, Thinking Skills

Tags: Genres Timbre Tone
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ICT Think Sheet - Sharing Information

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ICT Think Sheet - Sharing Information A Think Sheet of Thinking Classroom ideas for exploring the high quality exchange of information.

Categories: Think Sheet, IT, Secondary, Thinking Skills

Tags: Technology Communication
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Mike's Books:

Books to help with Questions

Thinking Stories to Wake Up Your Mind
by Mike Fleetham

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Thinking Stories to Wake Up Your Mind <br>by Mike Fleetham A Book containing 27 original tales with follow-on currciulum-linked activities for Primary and Lower Secondary. Literacy infused with the full range of Thinking Skills inspired by Bloom's Taxonomy. Classroom tasks with photocopiable worksheets that will save you planning time and embed Thinking firmly into everyday lessons. 

Available in our shop

Find out more
Categories: Book & EBook, Thinking Skills, English, Junior, Secondary

Tags: Assemblies Bloom's Taxonomy Thinking Stories

Surprising Stories to Stimulate Creativity
by Mike Fleetham

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Surprising Stories to Stimulate Creativity<br> by Mike Fleetham The follow-on Book to Thinking Stories. 28 original tales with currciulum-linked activities for Primary and Lower Secondary. Literacy, Thinking Skills and Creativity are combined within engaging stories and tasks saving you planning time and ensuring rich curriculum coverage. Ideal for supporting a creative curriculum. Photocopiable worksheets included.  

Available in our shop

Find out more
Categories: Book & EBook, Creativity, English, Junior, Secondary

Tags: Assemblies Thinking Skills Creativity Creative Curriculum Thinking Stories

Additional Resources:

Thinking Classroom Archive:

Resources to support questioning

Bloomin' Thinking Prompts

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Bloomin Thinking Prompts A very simple Prompt Sheet to get pupils thinking in different ways - inspired by Bloom's thinking taxonomy.

This is a Free Sample Resource

Find out more or Download now:
Categories: Other Resources, Thinking Skills, Any Subject, Infant, Junior, Secondary

Tags: Bloom's Taxonomy Questioning

Bloomin' Thinking Pupil Prompts

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Bloomin Thinking Pupil Prompts A Template with 6 prompt questions inspired by Bloom's taxonomy.

Categories: Other Resources, Thinking Skills, Any Subject, Junior, Secondary

Tags: Bloom's Taxonomy
Free Standard Member Resource: Login or Join for Free to access this resource and others.

101 Questions to Ask a Painting

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101 Questions to Ask a Painting A Thinking Tool Example with an application of 101Q Thinking with 101 questions to ask of a painting with people in it. Perfect for promoting engagement with, and discussion about artworks

Categories: Thinking Tool, Questioning, Thinking Skills, Art, All Ages

Tags: Questioning Art
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Art Think Sheet - Mark Making

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Art Think Sheet - Mark Making A Think Sheet using Thinking Classroom ideas to develop the creative use of tools, media and surfaces. 

Categories: Think Sheet, Art, Early Years, Infant, Junior, Thinking Skills

Tags: Mark Making
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Next month we think about Philosophy for Learning