Marquis has a Doctor of Education degree.
Higher-Level Thinking Questions
Reading is a critical skill that your students need in order to be successful in the classroom. Many children are able to read the words in a book but cannot understand what they are reading. They may be able to answer basic who, what, when, where and how questions, but answering higher-level thinking questions is just not that easy.
Higher-level thinking questions make the reader look beyond the surface and use critical-thinking skills to analyze, explain, or interpret literary works. For example, instead of asking your students ''Who are the main characters in this story?'' you may ask ''How are the main characters' actions important to the plot, theme, and conflict of the story?'' The second question will require your students to not only be able to identify the main characters but also to know something about theme, plot, and conflict.
Your readers should engage in questioning before, during, and after reading. If students are to improve their ability to understand the text, they must first be able to engage in higher levels of thinking.
It may be a good idea for you, as the teacher, to spend some time warming up your students' brains before you actually start to read. Building background knowledge gives your students information about the reading beforehand so that they will be able to follow along during the reading without getting lost. Here are a few before-reading questions that you can use to get things started:
- How might the title and artwork (if applicable) in the story be used as clues that will give us ideas about the characters and plot?
- Analyze each word in the title. Are there any implied (hinted) or explicit (fully stated) meanings that could help us understand what the story is going to be about?
- What personal knowledge will you bring to the reading of this story that will help you better understand the author's purpose?
- How might the author's biases or points of view affect the telling of this story?
- How might culture influence the way that a person understands the content of a story?
As your students are reading, they should continue to ask questions in order to actively engage in the text. You, as the teacher, may need to model the kinds of questioning skills that your students should use to develop their ability to comprehend. Such questions may include:
- How is dialogue used to create conflicts between the characters?
- Evaluate how the story's setting influences character development.
- Are the characters in this story diverse in race, gender or culture? Explain.
- How does the author's writing style influence your ability to stay motivated to read this story?
- Which of your senses (sight, touch, taste, and smell) did the story appeal to the most based on details and descriptions from the text?
- Pretend that you are a character in the story. Which character would you be and why?
Questioning does not stop once the students are done with their reading. Higher-level questions that can be used after reading are:
- What was one moment from the story that had the greatest impact on you?
- If you could change one character in this story, who would it be and why? How would you change him (or her)?
- Did the author end the story in a way that made you understand the conflict and resolution from the story?
- If you could change the ending of the story, how would you do it and why?
- How might culture influence the way that a person understands what is happening in a story?
- How did dialogue help you to better understand the characters' thoughts and actions?
Reading is a critical skill that your students need in order to be successful in all academic areas. Higher-level thinking questions make the reader look beyond the surface and use critical-thinking skills to analyze, explain, or interpret literary works. In order for your students to benefit from reading, they should be taught the skills necessary to develop their higher-level thinking before, during, and after reading. Build background knowledge to give your students information about the reading beforehand so that they will be able to follow along without getting lost. Encourage them to think about dialogue, setting, diversity, culture, author bias (or opinion), and what they might change to better understand the story.
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