Learning to ask good questions is a key to developing critical thinking and problem solving.  We ask questions daily for many different reasons.

Open-ended – Ask open-ended questions, rather than “yes” or “no.”
Convergent questions have one answer, but divergent questions encourage students to make new connections and think outside the box.

Phrase Questions Clearly – Focus on one aspect at a time.

Acknowledge Responses - Avoid judging answers by repeating their response.  “Good thinking!”  “That’s close.”  “I never thought about that before.”  “Kiss your brain!”

How did you know that?  Encourage children to “think out loud.”  This will help peers develop higher thinking skills.       

Probe – Extend students’ thinking by having them clarify an idea or support an opinion.

Give Time  (Smile! J) – Help children think about what they want to say and provide for individual differences by asking children to smile if they know the answer.  Allow 3-5 seconds of think time.

1-2-3 Tell – Ask a question and then slowly count, “1, 2, 3.”  When you say, “Tell,” the children all say the answer.

Thumbs Up Thinking – Tell children to stick up their thumb next to their chest if they have learned something.  Stick up fingers for each additional thing you’ve learned.

Whisper & Release – Children whisper the answer in their fists.  When the teacher says, “Release,” the students open their fists.

Right Now!  Right Now!  Right Now – Children stop and freeze.  Teacher asks, “Who can tell me something right now that they’ve learned that they didn’t know when they came to school this morning?”
Sign Language (Yes/No) – Teach children the signs for “yes” (wiggle fist in the air) and “no” (touch index and middle finger to thumb like a mouth closing).  You can also use cards with “Yes” and “No” written on them.

How Much Do You Know?  - Children hold up on their fingers from 1-5 to indicate how much they know about a particular topic.

Phone a Friend – If children don’t know the answer, allow them to phone a friend (place hand by mouth and ear like a phone) for help.
•They could also “ask the audience” for help with an answer.

Pick Sticks – Ask each child to write his/her name on a large craft stick.  Color one end green and one end red.  Place the red end in the bottom of a can.  Ask a question, and then choose a stick.  That child gets to answer the question.  Return their stick to the can with the red end up.

Think Partners – Divide children up into pairs and let them discuss answers.
Children can also review information by “teaching” a friend what they have learned.

Pop Up Q & A – Children need a partner for this activity.  The teacher poses a question.  Children talk over the answer with their partner and then squat down on the floor.  When everyone has discussed the answer the teacher calls “Pop Up Q & A” and the children stand up.  The teacher calls on various pairs to report their answer.

Written Response – Ask children to write the answer to a question.

Illustrated Response – Have children draw the answer to a question.

Choral Response – Children answer in unison.

Brainstorm – Brainstorm as a large group, small group, or individually.

KWL – Know, Want to Know, Learned – When introducing a new theme or concept make a list of what the students already know about the topic and what they want to learn about the topic.

Question of the Day – Write a thought-provoking question on the board each day.  Take time to listen to children’s responses at the end of the day.

I Wonder Center - Write “I Wonder” on a poster board.  Children take sticky notes and write things they would like to know more about and put them on the board.  At group time, choose several notes and read them to the class.  Encourage peers to add information or suggest how they could find out.