Saturday, September 28, 2013

What is the Role of Questioning in our Common Core Classrooms?


The Common Core State Standards expect all students to become questioners

          In a perfect world questions should be used for learning before they are used for assessment. Often questions are asked in order to gain a specific, predetermined answer. Other more authentic reasons to ask questions include: to explore issues, to challenge, to awaken a thought, to elicit reasoning, to justify, and to force self-reflection and/or self-assessment. Powerful stuff!

Einstein is quoted as saying "I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious." As teachers one of our many goals must be to create classroom environments where students are passionately curious and where questions and ideas are intriguing.  Consider the following question: Are Double Stuf Oreos really double stuffed? Here is the teacher's story.

There is so much information on questioning like so many other issues in is completely overwhelming. Let me share some go-to sites for information:

Questioning in General... 
Open and Closed Questions 10 min iTunes U Course from the Kentucky Department of Education 

Text Dependent Questions for Close Reading 


Text-dependent questions are questions that depend upon the text itself for answers. 
They do not depend on information from outside sources. Common Core Reading Standards 1-3 cover basic student comprehension of key ideas and details. Teachers need to ask questions for complex texts that starts with literal comprehension.  Questions that ask who, what, when, where, etc. will assure that students understand the key ideas and details, that they understand what the text says. Other questions might include:
  • Which details should be included in a summary?
  • What conclusions can you draw about?
  • What can you infer?
  • How could you explain?
  • What does ____ mean?
  • What is the significance of____?
Common Core Reading Standards 4-9 are on craft and story structure.  With repeated readings of the same text teachers can ask more challenging questions.  These types of questions draw the reader back into the text by asking them to search for specific clues and evidence, to analyze the author's choice of certain words or phrases, and to interpret how it fits into the whole work. Examples of appropriate questions stems:
  • How would you define ___?
  • Using your own words, explain ____?
  • Why did the author choose ___?
  • How did the author organize ____?
  • What does the author want you to think about?
Common Core Reading Standards 7-10 (Integration of Knowledge and Ideas) are evaluative and analytical questions. Readers are asked to integrate information and to compare texts to other texts. Possible question stems might include:
  • How does ____ relate to ____?
  • How is ____ different than____?
  • Explain the author's argument. What evidence is used to support this argument?
  • What specifically caused you to agree?
  • What specifically caused you to disagree?
  • What patterns can you find in the _____?
QAR strategy
Some questions about Text Dependent Questions

If you are looking for More Info....
  • Great article on Close Reading from Scholastic how to {here}
  • OODLES of Student Centered Activities Aligned with the Common Core State Standards {here} from the Florida Center for Reading Research. Always great stuff.
You also might want to check out my Pinterest Board on Text Based Questions

FINALLY, The Power of Pinterest

       I can barely be classified as an immigrant of this cyber world. At present I live for my daily aha's when suddenly a realization (Duh!!) smacks me between the eyes with regard to social networking, blogging, and pretty much anything else that has to do with technology. With that being said I realized the other day Pinterest is becoming my new "go-to" tool--many times even before Google. As I consider this notion I am amazed at the respect and power I have given this site. Pinterest is an incredible teacher tool.

     Earlier in May I started a few Common Core boards as a service for friends to access information. I was hooked, addicted in less time than a round trip to Walmart for weekly groceries. Thousands of pins later, you will find my boards mostly hold ideas that are free. Although I am planning to develop a few materials to sell on TPT (similar to the Writing/Non Fiction Features unit) the cost is merely a way to justify the time put into their development. Nothing more.

       I have intently studied close reading for the past three weeks and needed a fun way to process the info. Thus, the ABC's of Close Reading was born. The cover is really not needed. The ABC chart is 2 pages and needs to be one sheet, copied front and back and then laminated to be placed with your lesson planning materials. Although whimsical in appearance, I meant for it to have substance and to serve as a handy reference and gentle reminder of the most basic tenets of successful close reading. Mostly, it is my gift to you. Happy Saturday!

Nerdy News
Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions
"What are plate tectonics? How fast do plates move? Why do plates move? Do plates affect temperature? What animals can sense the plates moving? They raise questions “that we never would have thought of if we started to answer the first question we asked,” says one of the students. “And just when you think you already know the question you want to focus on, you realize: ‘Oh, wow, here’s this other question that is so much better."

 You can link to the article above. If you care to delve deeper this book is a goldmine in terms of creating a classroom of inquiry, dialogue, and genuine respect for student thinking.


  1. I loved the Einstein quote about being curious and the double-stuffed Oreo question was a wonderful example, as there was many, many passionate responses in the link. The sampling of questions you provided for different grades was very helpful, too, as were the examples you were kind enough to share. The topic of questions made me think of my long-ago paralegal training in which we were taught how to ask different types of questions in a legal situation. Those types of questions included close-ended, hypothetical, behavioral, leading, and open-ended. It certainly reminded me that whatever the situation, be it legal, or in the classroom, or almost any other situation, the right question may indeed be more important than the answer. To me, this may be one of the most significant aspects of Close Reading and I thank you for drawing attention to it, and also for your free sample of "The ABC's of Close Reading.

    1. Chloe, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I have had a love affair with questions for years. They are a pathway to learning. If only I could always come up with the right question. I love your connection to the legal world where language has to be so carefully crafted. I feel the same need for our classrooms. There is so much to learn. I am glad you enjoyed the feebie.
      Thanks again for your response, Cathe