How To...Ask Better Questions

In my own personal effort to #ExpandMTBoS, I'm starting a new category of blog posts called 'How To' so I can share the strategies behind the resource. I hope new and veteran teachers alike can find something useful. Click on the tag to the right for more posts!

Learning is not a process of absorbing others' ideas, thoughts, or practices but involves uncovering one's own ideas, connecting new ideas to one's own thinking.

Questions that drive learning don't come from a list, they arise in response to student contributions.

But listing is my jam and I have to start somewhere!

Uncover Student Thinking

  • What do you notice?
  • What do you wonder?
  • What do you see?
  • What evidence do you have?
  • What is common?
  • What relationship do they have?
  • Can you convince me that...?
  • Can you clarify...?
  • What is the best way to graph this?
  • Which number would you change to change the graph the most?
  • Does it make sense?
  • If someone else sits down and looks at your work, will they be able to understand it?
  • Did you go back into the context?
  • Where is the proof?
  • Can you show your thinking another way?
  • What equation could you write that would represent your work?
  • What does _____ have to do with ____?
  • How are ____ and ____  alike? Different?
  • What makes you say that?
  • How did you get your answer to number,,,?
  • What should you be doing right now?
  • What should you be working on?

Student Voice/Reflection

  • Is this working?
  • What can we do better tomorrow?
  • What did we like about the lesson?
  • If there was one component to keep from this lesson, what would it be?
  • If we could change something in the lesson, what would it be?
  • Where could we have done better?

Student Conferences

  • How do you think you’ve been doing in class?  
  • What areas do you think need improvement? 
  • Why do you think that? 
  • How has your homework been going? 
  • Can you explain why you haven’t been doing it? 
  • What about class time—can you show your mom your notes? 
  • I see very few notes—would you tell us what’s happening with that? 
  • How is all of this affecting your grades? 
  • What do you think will happen if your grades don’t improve? 
  • What needs to change in order for you to do better? 
  • How can your teachers help you be more successful? 
  • How can mom and dad help? 
  • What is our plan moving forward, starting today, to help you improve?

Teacher Reflection

  • What can I do to make this lesson more powerful?
  • How am I going to engage my students?
  • What am I missing?
  • How can I make this better?


  1. This is a nice list. I feel like I ask to many questions from the bottom of Bloom's Taxonomy and not enough from the top. (This is partly because the more complex the question, the more likely I am to get blank stares.)

  2. I think students can surprise us- it's just hard for us to give enough wait time and not steal away the struggle from them. Don't be afraid of the awkward silence! We can't get better answers without better questions. =)