Deep Questioning

deep questioningWe are fortunate to have many excellent teachers at Durrington High School.  The 15 minute forum this week was led by one of our longest serving teachers – Sue Wolstenholme.  Sue is a fantastic English teacher and was recently singled out by an HMI during an OFSTED subject inspection for her outstanding questioning skills.  As Sue is retiring at the end of this year, it seemed entirely appropriate to share her excellence.  Read on…….


Interactive teaching: The Socratic method

  • A method of questioning unaffected by preformed conclusions, used by Socrates to develop latent ideas in his students.
  • Getting people to think.
  • Getting them to formulate in words what they already know.
  • Getting them to question what they think they know.
  • Extending their thought processes.

(More on Socratic questions and here)

Questioning Techniques

  • No opting out allowed – go back to the student later when others have had a go.
  • No hands up – this limits involvement to those who want to be involved.
  • No “yes”/”no” from the teacher – these responses do not develop a dialogue.
  • Ask others to comment on the responses of their peers.
  • Ask for elaboration with responses.
  • Give them time to formulate their own answers – don’t be afraid of the silence.

questioning2Golden Principles

  • As a part of your planning, write your own questions based on what you want to do/ them to know/ to think about.
  • Explore a myriad of possible answers.
  • Prepare supplementary questions.
  • Be prepared to explore answers with students.
  • Open questions not closed questions.
  • Don’t respond with “excellent” if it is not excellent. Try to be positive, bit then develop the response by further questioning.

Opening Gambits

  • Tell me about……
  • What makes you think that…..
  • Talk me through…..
  • Can you give me a bit more about your thought processes there…..
  • What pictures are coming up in your head……
  • Could you explain what she means……
  • What difference would it make if…….
  • Why/ when/ how/ where/ what/ who  – are often openings to closed questions.

For more ideas about questioning, see here.


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3 Responses to Deep Questioning

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