Modelling & Questioning

questmodelThe 15 Minute Forum was led tonight by English teacher and Literacy Leader, Lucy Darling.  Lucy started the session by saying that when she was using modelling in her lessons, she also considered the key questions that she would need to use, in order to get to the best outcome.  Clearly this can only be done to a certain degree, as often the most effective questions are in response to student responses.  However, the key areas where questioning will be used can be planned.

Lucy then went on to walk us through a Product Design lesson she helped a colleague to plan, with modelling and questioning in mind.

Anchor them in

Use the ‘Probing the continuum’ approach from Andy Tharby to get students thinking about the key issues, relating to the 8 mark question students will eventually answer.  For this lesson, the following continuum was used:


Students write their names on a post-it and stick it on the continuum, in line with their opinion on the issue.  This works well, because it acts as a good starting point for the discussion and also provides them with alternative viewpoints to their own – which will be useful when it comes to answering the question.


Unpick the terminology

It’s at this point that students get the dictionaries out and check they have a full understanding of some of the key words that will be used, when answering the question later. For example:

  • Concise
  • Illustrate
  • Mass Production

Reminder about the big picture

Remind the students why the skill of answering these 8 and 6 mark questions is so important.  In the Product Design exam, these questions will account for around 9% of the marks – so they could quite easily be the difference between a grade or two.

Go back to the continuum

It’s good to return to the continuum to see if anyone has changed their view – or if any of them would like to add to the justification of their view, or challenge the view of anyone else.  This can be supported by questioning ‘Why did you think that? Is that still your view? Why has it changed?’

Unpick the question

At this point they are ready to be given the question:


Question students on what the key words of the question are.  They should come up with:

  • Explain
  • Mass Production
  • Environment
  • Sweatshop

More questioning – what do they understand these words/ phrases to mean in the context of this question?  Then unpick what the question is asking, in terms of these key phrases – this gives a focus for their answer and should begin to clarify their thoughts:

  • What is mass production?
  • How might it be deemed responsible for changes to the environment?
  • How might it be deemed responsible for sweatshops?

Plan it

Encourage students to write a one minute plan before they start writing their answer:


Reinforce that they should spend no more than a minute on this….hence the name!

Look at the assessment criteria


Don’t just look at it though, get the students to pick out the key words and question them about what each one means.  So for example, they would probably come up with:

  • Concise & detailed explanation of what mass production is
  • Understanding
  • Why used
  • How it impacts
  • Examples
  • Well structured
  • SPG


Deconstruct a model answer

Give students a model answer:


Having identified the key features in the assessment criteria, they now need to scrutinise this model answer – highlighting and annotating where each of the assessment criteria are met.

Students can then be questioned about why they think each part of the text fits that particular assessment criteria – what makes it so good? How could it be improved further?  They can then be encouraged to build on or challenge each other’s response to these questions.  This should give them a very clear idea about what they are aiming for in their own answer – having deconstructed an example of excellence

Construct an answer

Having gone through all of these stages, students can now start to write their own.  This could be done in a variety of ways:

  • Construct their own
  • C0-construct with a partner
  • Co-construct as a class

You might also want to scaffold this a bit, by providing them with some sentence starters:

  • Manufacturers…..
  • Mass production is……
  • One way they might be…..
  • In addition…..
  • To add to this…..



Redrafting is a really important habit to instil in students.  So having completed their first draft, they can go back to the assessment criteria, review their work (or that of a peer) and then give some feedback.

With a bit of DIRT time, they can then redraft their work…..‘If it’s not excellent, it’s not finished!


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2 Responses to Modelling & Questioning

  1. Pingback: Edssential » Modelling & Questioning

  2. Pingback: Modelling & Questioning | school of thinking

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