Reflective Questioning

The important thing is to not stop questioning.
Albert Einstein
The value you receive from reflective thinking will depend on the kinds of questions you ask yourself.
John C. Maxwell
The quality of questions is not judged by its complexity but by the complexity of thinking it provokes.
Joseph O'Connor

At Glenmoor and Winton we strive to be better reflective thinkers who find problems to solve and questions to answer, every lesson, every day.

How do we strive to be more reflective learners?

There is a big emphasis amongst both the staff and student fraternity to critically evaluate our processes, outcomes, successes and failures in order to develop new strategies and ideas or to remind ourselves of what has worked previously. We use a number of tools and strategies to aid this reflection in lessons; for homework; independent reflection; staff meetings; and even senior level meetings or consultations. 

Tool 1: The Frame of Reference (Hyerle.D)

This metacognitive tool can be ‘placed’ around Thinking Maps, essays, products, images, tests, and texts to allow learners to deepen their thinking and often reflect upon the information they have. Hyerle’s frame of reference (link to an image explaining) asks learners to consider 3 guiding questions which will allow for deeper and more reflective questioning.

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Tool 2: 6 Hat Thinking (de Bono. E)

This well-established approach allows learners to reflect upon test results; events; processes; performances; presentations; outcomes in both subjective and objective terms. The 6 Hats (link to an image explaining) ask all participants to approach the subject matter from a variety of viewpoints leading to deeper understanding of the issues involved which can in turn lead to more informed and effective judgements.

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Tool 3: PMI (de Bono.E) and BAR (Ryan.T)

These two tools can be used for evaluative and reflective tasks. The PMI (link to image explaining) allows learners to categorise their thoughts into 3 groups which allow a greater reflection. The BAR (link to image explaining) uses three categories as well but perhaps pose more questions of the material than the PMI which asks for judgements as part of reflection.

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How do we become better at asking questions?

The focus on questioning is at the heart of all thinking tools and strategies and for us at Glenmoor and Winton, it is the key to great teaching and learning. We adopted a ‘no hands up’ approach 3 years ago inspired by the work of Dylan Williams (link to youtube clips). The rationale for this was:

  1. No opt out for students
  2. Greater differentiation of questioning
  3. Make teachers think about the questions they ask
  4. Improve attention levels
  5. Diagnose misconceptions

Our approach to ‘no hands up’ allowed us to explore a range of questioning strategies such as PPBP (Williams.D); mini whiteboards; 50:50; and Think-Pair-Share.

We have also worked hard on a number of explicit tools used to generate questions – teacher or student – to explore greater range of questioning and cover multiple aspects of Bloom/Anderson

Tool 1: Q Matrix (Kagan.S)

This is a tool that gives students and teachers accessible ways to create questions using simple but effective starter stems. The Q matrix allows learners to develop questions that move from lower order to higher order thinking which can be linked to Bloom/Anderson taxonomy or the 3 Storey Intellect (Wendall-Holmes.O)

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Tool 2: 8 Way Thinking (Gilbert.I)

Using the work of Howard Gardner on multiple intelligences, Gilbert created this tool that asks learners to devise questions in 8 categories – leading to intriguing and interesting questions that might not be immediately obvious. This creates hard forged links across a number of areas and ideas and also helps promote a more holistic and co-currcicular approach

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