Posted on 03/15/2018 at 07:57 AM by Blog Experts
Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson in their book Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children’s Thinking propose that there are six levels of questioning we can use with young children. The types of questions from the simplest to the most complex are remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and create. An example of a remember question would be “How many pigs are in the story of The Three Little Pigs?” All children need to do is answer with a one-word response. An example of a create question would be “How would you describe the wolf?” There is a great difference in the amount of thinking that a child needs to do with each of these questions. A teacher who asks more higher-level questions creates children who have stronger brains.
So what are high-level questions? High-level questions are age and stage-appropriate questions that each child answers in their own way (How can we change the words of Row Row Row Your Boat?). They are questions that encourage children to expand their thinking (Why do you think we eat at the table rather than at our cots?). High-level questions are not yes-no questions (Do you have a pet?), questions that have an obvious answer (Do you have your coat on?) or questions that have only one right answer (How old are you?). Our job as teachers is not to fill time, but rather to fill brains. So we need to sneak in those opportunities to pose high-level questions.
When you enter children’s play, hopefully every day for one hour during Choice Time, what kind of questioning are you using? In the Dramatic Play Area are you asking simple questions like “What color is this vegetable?” or complex questions like “What do you think we should take along for the baby when we go to the doctor’s office? Why?” In the Block Area are you asking simple questions like “What animals are in your building?” or complex questions like “How can you make the garage big enough to hold all those cars?” No matter what area--dramatic play, block, art, discovery, library, sand and water, toys and games, outdoors—there is opportunity to exercise children’s brains. And the great part about doing it during Choice Time is that you can individualize the questioning based on the child’s level of understanding.
Questioning is more about what type than it is about how many, so include those that are high-level in them both intentional and incidental ways.