Could it be possible that such a seemingly small act of changing the wording in a question can really accomplish both higher order thinking for students and formative assessment? This questioning technique can be used to increase rigor and engagement across all subjects!
In the fall issue of the T-TAC ODU Network News (Sept-Oct 2013), the use of questioning to improve comprehension was discussed. The use of questioning as one means of formative assessment was also noted in the cover article of the previous issue with added resources from Dr. Jim Knight. In this issue, further exploration of questioning will assist teachers to increase rigor and help students move toward higher order thinking. There are many different ways to consider categorizing types of questions that will help to achieve this aim. Could it be possible that such a seemingly small act of changing the wording in a question can really accomplish both higher order thinking for students and formative assessment? The answer is a resounding yes and this questioning technique can be used to increase rigor and engagement across all subjects! Higher order questions invite students to explore an idea more fully and give a more expansive answer, especially when the question is open ended without one right answer. Reasoning, communication skills, writing, and comprehension are all improved by thoughtful use of questions.
View this matrix of 36 question starters (Wiederhold, 1995) to provide you with a quick look at the various possibilities for higher order questioning. Basic knowledge and information questions appear on the top rows of the matrix while higher order questions that require analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating are on the lower rows.
Use these question word cards from the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) and have students generate and answer questions to help with comprehending text or new subject matter that is presented by teachers.
Variation 1: Write question prompts from the word cards (such as when, why, what, etc.) on a beach ball. Toss the ball to a student and whatever question prompt they see when they catch the ball is the one to which they will respond. The student then tosses the ball to another student to catch and respond.
Variation 2: Use the blank question matrix that is provided with the word cards to help students create their own questions that generate higher order thinking.
Wiederhold, C. (1995). Cooperative learning and higher level thinking: The question matrix. San Clemente, CA: Kagan.