Share some of your favorite/ most effective questions and why/what the result has been?

@informed_members @Certified_Educators

Good Morning and welcome to Question 4 of our slow chat about creating strong questions.

If you missed our earlier discussion topics, you can check them out here:

Balancing Unit Content with Critical Content Questions and DOK Questions in Assessments

Do you discuss higher order thinking questions with students so that they can develop their own?

How do you determine which level of DOK your assessment or student project fits?

@senger, @Susan_Shires and I would love to hear your thoughts about the effective questions you use in your classroom. Please share some of your favorite questions that you have used in your classroom. (Let us know what the classroom situation is- grade and subject) What has the result been and why do you think they were so effective? What are areas that you think you can improve on when it comes to the questions you ask, whether in class instruction, formative, or summative assessments.


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This may sound strange but the more simple the question, I find, the better. What frustrated me as a child is often my go-to with students…“Why?” I think they can be amazed at how often I have to say it until that can’t be answered. They come to realize that their original answers we just surface answers and they learn to anticipate when I might say “why?” and elaborate more before I can do that! I often here them modeling that in their group work/discussions (I also hear, “don’t ask me why!” :rofl:)


I feel that I am not as strong at asking in-depth follow up questions as I want to be- definitely my weakness some days. I feel that anyone that might be feeling the same should probably look for question stems and keep them at hand. Eventually, the questioning will become more normal feeling.

With summative assignments the higher level questions often are put on the back burner because those assessments are timed and the time allotted to enter grades is limited, therefore teachers often go back to multiple choice questions. It is what it is.

I would like to find a way to have them (the ‘powers that be’) allow us to have shorter district common assessments that are not all multiple choice (and allow us time to grade them) This is difficult as they want to data asap.

I need to become better at writing stronger higher level multiple choice questions (is that really possible??) in order to be able to blend district expectations with assessments and what I think is best for the student.


One of my favorite questions to ask as a math teacher and special educator was along the lines of “How did you arrive where you are now?” (when they were completing problems, activities). Students would share their thought process towards where they had arrived (whether that be at a step or at the answer). I loved asking this because it gave me helped me pinpoint misconceptions. It was also helped my students think meta-cognitively and continuously develop their learning strategies. It can be tough for students to talk about their learning process so I would also make sure that the tone in which I asked the question (and questions in general) was more from the perspective of a peer learner (who wanted to learn more about how the student learned and help them). I think this went a long way to making them feel more comfortable with sharing.

This is a really neat idea. Maybe you could explore creating an assessment where the closed questions are in service of one open-ended, higher level question or vice-versa. In either case, the objective would be allowing students to access different DOK levels while still saving time.

Hmm, I think there are ways to use closed questions in support of higher DOK levels. We just did an Iron Chef session yesterday with @Laurie_Rigg, @djohnson and @fichtlis where @Laurie_Rigg created some great examples of this with the Categorize question type. Here’s the direct link to the formative with her examples!


I agree! I also ask “why” or “Tell me more” to get them to expand more on what they are thinking. It is simple, and easily applies across the content areas. Building the habit in ourselves and our students to consistently look to go deeper is worthwhile!

Agreed! This would be a great a resource to keep handy for sure! If anyone has some to share, that would be great!

This sounds very frustrating! I’ve come to realize that it is a major benefit to work in a small private school so that I’m able to choose a couple short answer questions that students answer for their summative assessments, instead of just giving multiple choice questions - we don’t have the mandatory benchmark tests that I was used to seeing when I was doing student teaching. There is definitely a benefit to testing less often and making the assessments more meaningful.

Great idea! I would definitely be interested if anyone has any MC questions they think hit that higher level of questioning.


I like using the “Explain why?” question with my 5th graders. I like this question because it makes students think about what is expected, based on the discussions during class time. We should not ‘teach to the test’, however, we should be teaching the content aligned to the standards we are working with. This would show students exactly what is expected and so they are prepared for the assessments we give them. I think we should always improve our questions, I think one of the best ways to do this is to use the vocabulary terms within the questions.


I find it interesting that multiple choice questions are still being used as often as it sounds like. We have strayed away from those types of questions and using more of the open ended questions to have students show their thinking.


I’m starting to add what would you like to discuss/share that wasn’t asked that relates to what we learned on formative and summative assessments. It is interesting that students know material but freeze or get confused by some questions that they actually understand the concept and give up or just don’t care to answer. This will be something I will continue to pursue for sure.


I love this idea - as a student it was great to have a space to show what I knew beyond what the teacher put on the test (is there anything more frustrating than putting in hours preparing for a test and feeling like you have mastered something, and then it isn’t asked for on the test?)

I’ve done this a few times myself, but am not as consistent with it as I would like - when I have done it, it is interesting to see what information has stuck with the students vs what I (or others) have thought is most important to remember/be tested on.


We tend to work with open ended questions in class, but assessments the district wants data on are always multiple choice. This year they are asking that we consider adding short answer responses or an essay that we score and can input the score into AWARE so they can see. We are keeping digital writing portfolios in our district from K-12, but these, of course, only shows a students thought process over a single prompt per writing and the strength of their writing.


I believe that for many teachers consistency is an issue. We often find ourselves going back to what we have used for so long because it is natural and easy for us. Implementing a new way to approach something in our classroom takes time and sometime we feel like we are running out of time…thus using the ‘old standards’ or not being as consistent as we would like.
I have an agenda on the board for each week, but I still make personal notes every morning to remind myself what I want to do or say. I have to laugh because sometimes I fail to even look at those in my haste to get class started. I have recently bought a new note pad that allows me to check off as I complete my tasks. I hope this helps me.


I wanted to take a moment to share two very good resources to help with questioning.


@d.vendramin @Darcey_Teasdale I love the idea of asking students to share what they know (aside from what was asked on the assessment). I think this not only further informs you about their progress, but can also help you reflect on the questions you are choosing to ask. Perhaps what students share can point to some interesting ways of engaging them in future units or engaging future classes.

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