Great questions have legs…


I have some questions to ask you…

Do you ask questions to check for recall of information?
Or to help students clarify their thinking and construct meaning for themselves?

Do you play ‘guess what’s in my head’?
Or do you encourage learners to keep digging deeper?

Do you stop asking once you  get the answer you were  looking for?
Or do you ask questions you don’t already know the answer to?

Do you think answers are more important than questions?
Or are you excited when questions lead to even more questions?


Do you hear the answers and move on to the next question?
Or do you listen really carefully so the responses can guide where to go next?

Do you praise students who give great answers?
Or do you push students further by asking them to explain, elaborate and justify?

Do you rephrase the question if you no one responds?
Or do you give learners time to think, discuss and make connections?

Is every question and answer directed through you?
Or do students respond directly to each others questions?

Great questions have legs. They propel the learning forward.

(‘Making Thinking Visible’ by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church and Karin Morrison)

(Reading the above. Some of my thinking made visible here!)


13 thoughts on “Great questions have legs…

  1. Thinking is something I really try to cultivate in my classroom. Asking 5 year olds questions that challenge their thinking is tricky and I have to really think about these beforehand. Its a real challenge but very worthwhile. Listening to their answers carefully is a skill I have had to develop and an continuing to work on.Getting them to recall information is easy eg What colour is Little Red Riding Hood’s cape? but asking them “why the cape is red?” opens up a whole new conversation.


  2. Edna….

    you ask such great questions!

    I try hard in my classes and I also comment when they ask great questions and tell them it’s fine to answer a question of mine with a question of their own – that keeps everybody talking and happy to contribute!

    I too like the Visible Thinking stuff, I also think it is helpful to remember Bloom’s taxonomy – I wrote this myself a while back – just for Mathematics – but maybe useful:


  3. It’s great to see all these questions together! It is hard to ask the right questions, but with conscious effort and practise, it becomes natural to think in a “questioning way.” Thank you for reminding us of the importance of this skill as teachers.


  4. Wonderful post and comments! Reminds me of “The Art of Questioning” chapter in Grant Lichtman’s ins credible book The Falconer . “Questions are the waypoints on the path of wisdom.” – Lichtman


  5. I have just discovered your blog and want to say that you write about a lot of the things that have preoccupied me over the years. The art and value of questioning has to be one of my constant themes. Some people believe that it is simply a matter of putting students together in pairs or small groups to get the students to think for themselves but I feel that that is no more productive than a whole group setting if the questions aren’t right. As a high school English teacher, I have come to realize that students need to be taught how to generate their own questions about a text and not be always asked to look for things that we think are important. When a student forms the habit of questioning the text herself, she will eventually piece together all the big ideas ( alone or collaboratively) that the teacher may want to emphasize. Nothing is more powerful than when an individual actively participates in the thinking process. I have to say that this is something that is woefully lacking in classrooms that emphasize content and teachers who won’t relinquish the “read the text, answer questions, have a class discussion approach” to teaching English.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s