Guidelines for Asking Questions to Support Classroom Discussions

I’ve found that students don’t always know how to ask questions in class discussions, especially questions of one another. But, they can learn this skill. I’ve prepared the following that I now distribute to my students. It’s proven quite helpful.

When a classmate offers an insight during a discussion…

…listen. Really Listen. Jot down at least one insight that resonated with you and ask yourself why it resonated with you.

Ask follow-up questions like…

  • I found this insight particularly interesting (mention the insight and why you think it was interesting). Could you share more about why you mentioned this?
  • I would love to hear more of your thoughts about ___________. Have you done any additional thinking about this? If so, could you share that with us?
  • You gave a great example of __________________ to illustrate your point about ________________. Have you seen other examples that also illustrate that point.  
  • I want to be sure I understood you correctly about ________________ (restate the insight in your own words). Am I understanding your meaning? If not, can you help me understand better?
  • When you picture (mention the insight) playing itself out in the future, what does that look like to you?
  • How might you use this insight (mention the insight) to guide your behaviors and actions in the future?
  • What do you think others might see to know this (mention the insight) is occurring?
  • You mentioned this (mention the insight) as being quite important. What do you think changes when that is not present?
  • Thanks for sharing this insight (mention the insight). It’s not something I’ve thought much about before. I would love to learn more. Any resources you could point me toward?
  • You mentioned this as something quite positive or beneficial (mention the insight). Can you envision a situation in which this could be too much of a good thing? If so, what might that look like? 

You can access a printable copy of this here.

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