One school introduced De Bono’s Thinking Hats, with children being able to help themselves to a hat during circle time. The structure encouraged them to think for themselves, gaining information and sharing information. It also helps them to see what a question is.
Another school had used ‘thinking puppets’ where children are asked how the puppet is feeling, how children can solve a problem the puppet has and so on.
It was agreed that in Reception children often make a statement rather than asking or answering questions, so it was a training issue.
Good questions to get children discussing included putting up 3 shapes or numbers and asking what was the same about them and what was different. This encouraged children to talk and discuss to a higher level than was predicted.
Showing a picture with a statement was also very effective, with children agreeing or disagreeing with the statement (e.g. a polar bear with the statement ‘I live in a jungle’).
Using a picture for discussion was also effective (e.g. a robbery in a museum). The picture is used first for children to discuss what has happened, but then clues are added to develop their thinking. They have to reason, justify and state the evidence. This can lead to probability statements (scale of impossible to definite).
The ‘Range of answers’ with one being ambiguous had led to misconceptions being revealed. Right and wrong answers had been used for a growing topic which had encouraged children to question and had promoted discussion.
The statement ‘e.g. the best way to come to school is by car’ – agree or disagree, had encouraged children to discuss options and use reasoning skills.
Starting from the end (the answer is 2) had enabled higher achievers to extend their own thinking.
In foundation stage it was agreed that questioning needs to be built up and talk partners and the learning culture embedded first.
It was also felt that good questions needed a lot of planning.
In a Nursery, Blooms Taxonomy had been used in storytelling and paintings to guide the teacher’s questions. Some children surprised the teachers by being able to answer higher order questions.
A Nursery child with delayed language was asked an evaluation question using Blooms Taxonomy for the book ‘Each Peach Pear Plum’. The question was ‘What might happen next?’ the child answered ‘They eat all the pie’.
The teacher then said ‘and?’ which led to ‘they put the dish in the kitchen’. A further ‘and?’ resulted in ‘they go home’. This was a great achievement for this child.
Tower Hamlets, London
Question starters used:
Range of answers
What can we use to measure the gruffalo?
Cubes, bananas, dice, oranges, marbles
Children wanted to use marbles instead of other resources and were very excited to try things out.
The giant wanted to eat Jack. Jack just wanted to be friends.
Children discussed whether they agreed or not.
Concept cartoon about light and dark
I think carrots help you see in the dark. True or false
Odd one out
Doing something wrong in a maths calculation.
Teachers agreed that they now use these kinds of questions throughout the day. They have become embedded.
Starter questions used:
- Silly questions (what would happen if coats were made of paper?) This led to more questions.
- Odd one out (with shapes). Children were engaged and stayed on task.
- Range of answers (which of these would a fire-fighter use?)
Teachers agreed that questioning has to be taught, such as asking their talk partner questions.
Claire Hodgson | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tower Hamlets, London
Stella Smith | email@example.com
Stella Smith | firstname.lastname@example.org
Pauline Hill | email@example.com