Designing Leveled Questions
Lesson Objective: Build understanding through a series of questions
All Grades / All Subjects / Scaffolding

Thought starters

  1. How does Ms. Thomas consider learning goals when planning questions to ask?
  2. What strategies does Ms. Thomas use to scaffold understanding?
  3. How does making connections help students apply their learning?
Higher level questioning and making personal connections from topic to student
Recommended (0)
The approach here makes sense to me. I currently teach high school English and follow a similar method. Mortimer Adler (of The Great Books series) proposed that any text could be thoroughly discussed using three question types. The first is questions of fact. The answer to this type of question can be found directly in the text--the student can point to it. The second question type is questions of interpretation. These require unpacking of the text. Evidence for one's answer(s) can be found in the text, but not a direct answer. These often deal with why? or how? But can be any question that leads to inference or having to construct answers from the available evidence. The third type of question is questions of evaluation. These questions seek to evaluate the facts and interpretations brought to light by a particular text by checking them against one's own experiences. The video seems to operate with a similar leveling of questions. I find, at least in a literature classroom, that most of the time is spent on interpretive questions that nudge students to think about connections between parts of a larger text. Students love the evaluative questions, but I don't have to ask many of them to get students to engage with them. For more on Adler's questions, you can look at Matt Copeland's book on Socratic Circles.
Recommended (0)
Mr. Schultz hit it on the marker, the video makes sense. The teacher probed three questions which gradually increased the understanding of the student's learning. The first question asked was I considered a book question (answer can be easily located in the passage) for comprehension. The second question allowed the student to refer back to the reading. I usually ask my students to "Prove It." This allows them to direct their reasoning to the passage. Moreover, the student must direct me to the specific paragraph or line to support their statement. Can we say--EVIDENCE. Lastly, Ms. Thomas wanted the students to relate the reading to their own personal lives. At GWC, we call this text-to-self. The T.I.G.E.R.S. Strategy we use at my school covers all the elements Ms. Thomas encourages.
Recommended (0)
I really agree with Ms. Thomas when she stated in the beginning that she always asks herself "What do I want my students to learn?" I think that sometimes during lesson planning we can get distracted by the activities that we're planning, and move away from the objective. By asking ourselves the question "What is it that I want my students to learn?" we force ourselves to reign it back in and focus on the learning objectives. I thought that they way she utilized question scaffolding was great. After watching this video, I will definitely return to the practice of including higher order thinking essential questions in my lesson plan. Sometimes it's challenging to find time for classroom discussions such as these, however, I've already laid the groundwork for having productive, respectful classroom discussions during cooperative learning so I will definitely implement more cooperative learning activities such as the one I just watched.
Recommended (0)
Love this video! Questioning techniques along with discussions are things I am trying to improve/strengthen in my classroom. Ms. Thomas has her discussion time and questioning scaffolding setup so well. I hope to use some of these strategies in my classroom. My students would love to be more involved in the cooperative learning shown in this classroom.
Recommended (0)


  • Designing Leveled Questions Transcript

    +++ 00:00:07 +++
    Card: Strategies: Designing Leveled Questions.

    Lower Third: Jamila Thomas
    MAPS (Methods of Academic

    Designing Leveled Questions Transcript

    +++ 00:00:07 +++
    Card: Strategies: Designing Leveled Questions.

    Lower Third: Jamila Thomas
    MAPS (Methods of Academic & Personal Success)
    Cedar Hill Collegiate High School, Cedar Hill, Texas
    Jamila Thomas: I've designed questions based on what I want them to learn. So I think about the end in mind. What do I want them to get from the questions that are being asked? What concepts, what ideas, what themes that were presented that I think are the most important messages that need to be conveyed to them.
    Jamila Thomas: You were asked to think about the documentary, "The Pact," about these three amazing doctors who overcame certain obstacles and certain things that were presented in front of them.

    +++ 00:00:38 +++
    Jamila Thomas: The first step is a question that they're given that pretty much, any of them can answer.
    Jamila Thomas: What truths are presented in the documentary?
    Student: One was self-reliance. One of the doctors went to juvenile and he didn't have a support system in juvenile, so he had to self-rely on his own determination.
    Jamila Thomas: The second question builds upon the first question and I want something a little bit more specific.
    Jamila Thomas: How are these truths presented to the viewers? What information does it put forward? And what information is left out?

    +++ 00:01:13 +++
    Student: The information that was left out, we said Malik's future, because it didn't tell us what he did after the documentary.
    Jamila Thomas: And then the third question is always the question that has to do with society, something that's going on in the world around them, something that's going on with them personally, because I want them to make that personal connection.
    Jamila Thomas: Can you relate to this viewpoint, or at least understand where it's coming from? And how does it relate to your collegiate experience? You may not necessarily have gangs, but you all have what?

    +++ 00:01:40 +++
    Student: Cliques.
    Jamila Thomas: Cliques, there you go. You all have cliques.
    Jamila Thomas: When a student makes a personal connection, it resonates with them and they'll remember how it pertains to them, how it relates to them, and ultimately, that's where the learning starts.
    Student: This is what Collegiate's all about.
    Jamila Thomas: Good ears.

School Details

Cedar Hill High School
1 Longhorn Boulevard
Cedar Hill TX 75104
Population: 1731

Data Provided By:



Jamila Thomas



All Grades / All Subjects / Tch Tools

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, All Subjects, Class Culture

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, ELA, Class Culture

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Students / Class Culture