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Educator Resources

How To Get Students To Ask More Questions In The Classroom

By | Educator Resources

CLOI Classroom Tip: Developing Student Questioning Strategies

Why ask Questions?

Teachers ask questions for many reasons, including:

  • To have the student actively involved in the lesson
  • To increase enthusiasm or curiosity
  • To gauge students’ preparation
  • To check on any accomplishments of work
  • To build critical thinking skills
  • To evaluate prior lessons
  • To foster perceptions
  • To assess accomplishment or mastery of goals and ideas
  • To inspire independent learning


Overall, research shows teaching that involves questioning is more effective than teaching without questioning. An important finding is that questions that allow students to concentrate their attention on significant elements of a lesson will have better comprehension than the students that focus on rare or interesting elements. A teacher may fluctuate his or her reason in asking questions during a single lesson, or a single question may have more than one resolution.

Click the link to help with your next lesson. https://beyondpenguins.ehe.osu.edu/issue/energy-and-the-polar-environment/questioning-techniques-research-based-strategies-for-teachers

Here is an activity that teachers can adapt.

Activity:  Students create questions based on a given text that was read by the class. The students develop sets of questions that range in complexity, and their goal is to “Stump the Scholar”.  The “scholar” could be the teacher, school librarian, or principal invited into the classroom for this activity.  It’s a chance for students to show their expertise and hopefully ask a question that is too hard for the scholar!

This activity can be adapted to every grade level, K-12.  It provides a welcome change of pace for students who tire of the traditional answering of questions when reading is completed.  It requires active engagement with the text and its FUN!  Have a Stump the Scholar contest in your grade! Seek out staff or other adult volunteers that will join in!  Your students will love it!

The question sets include literal, inferential, and evaluative types.  Students practice with each question style. This exercise promotes critical thinking, deep engagement with the text, as well as speaking and writing skills.  Students can work alone, in pairs, or small groups.  This can be a formative assessment performed while a longer novel or informational text is being read or a summative assignment to review an entire text.

Commonwealth Learning Online Institute (CLOI) has developed a unique course titled Developing Comprehension with the State Standards.  Our course contains excellent resources including this neat classroom activity.  Relevant Common Core Standards: This activity relates directly to many of the Common Core Anchor Standards for Reading.  The link to this section of the standards is: Here.

Additional Resource for Questioning Methods

The following online resource can help you learn more about effective questioning methods and implement them in your classroom.

School Improvement Research Series: Classroom Questioning
This document from the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory summarizes research findings on questioning techniques.



Tips To Improve Close Reading Skills in the Classroom

By | Educator Resources

Close Reading

A major focus of current State Standards and the Common Core State Standards is improving students close reading skills.  How do we do this?  Burkins and Yaris of Think Tank for 21st Century Literacy define close reading as “Rereading for the purpose of recognizing details and nuances of text that may go unnoticed during a cursory first read so that new understanding and insights may reveal themselves”.  This definition assumes the reader will read the passage more than once.  For many students, the concept of reading a text one time, let alone more than once is unheard of.  Students will often substitute skimming for fully reading assigned text.  Our students need explicit modeling of close reading techniques.  Teachers must demonstrate how close reading conveys a deeper understanding of the material that leads to greater success when asked to perform a task related to that text. Here are some practical tips you can use with both fiction and nonfiction text.

Quick outline for Close Reading Activity

  • Begin with a short passage.
  • This can be one page from a class novel, a poem, or one subtopic in a textbook chapter.
  • For demonstrating close reading, it is easier to see the techniques applied in a brief text.
  • Set up for success by pre-teaching new vocabulary.  This gives you a sense of your students’ background knowledge while helping them to read more fluently.
  • Read and re-read the text 3-4 times using variety of purposes
  • Different methods should be used such as read-aloud by the teacher, choral reading, and partner reading.
  • Explain the reason for each reading of the text.  For example,
    • The first reading is to get acquainted with the text and use the newly learned vocabulary in context.
    • The second reading may be to develop questions based on the subheadings in a nonfiction text.
    • In a fictional passage, the purpose may be to note a particular literary device that the author uses such as simile, metaphor or hyperbole.
    • The third reading can be to clarify questions and answer them with text evidence.
    • The final reading would be to develop the main idea of the text, supported by the details gathered from the first three readings.

Explicitly model proper note taking.

  • Older students are expected to take notes when reading but this is a skill that must be taught.
  • In younger grades, note taking can be a combination of oral discussion, questioning, and recording on a KWL chart.
  • As students move up in grade level, a two-column format such as the Cornell Note taking method allows for easy organization of the material so that the notes become an effective study tool.
  • Students often mistake highlighting every word and/or writing an extraneous amount for good note taking.

Click the link below for students in younger grades. KWL charts keep students’ thoughts organized and their minds focused on the task.


Click the link below to find a Cornell Note Taker that will allow students to use as an effective study tool.



How Teachers Maximize Their Professional Development in the Classroom

By | Educator Resources

Classroom Tip: How to Maximize Your Professional Development

A teacher’s most precious resource is time.  We constantly seek ways to use our time wisely.  One guaranteed time saver is linking your professional development (PD) commitments to your teaching practice.  The buzzword for this is job-embedded professional development.  Let’s explore the term.

The U.S. Department of Education explains that the phrase “job-embedded” “connotes a direct connection between a teacher’s work in the classroom and the professional development the teacher receives.”

Job-Embedded PD & Connecting with Your Peers

When a teacher can envision how a course or seminar will fit into his or her classroom environment, the PD takes on greater meaning.  An immediate and strong connection is made between the new knowledge and its practical application.  Teachers are true innovators!  We love to bring new ideas, strategies, and tools for our instruction.  When PD is clearly job-embedded, the teacher can practice the course material in the classroom, analyze its outcome, and discuss its efficacy with the course members in real time.  This is a wonderful opportunity for each one of us to view our own grade level from a different perspective.  In this era of Common Core, with its emphasis on “college and career readiness”, it’s helpful for us to remember that every teacher, K-12, contributes to a child’s successful school career.

The checklist below will guide you in planning your professional development for this academic year. It can be very helpful to take a course with a colleague.  It automatically gives you time to discuss students of concern and coordinate plans of action.   When a community of teachers takes PD together, they can build a stronger vision of achievement for the student body based on their shared experience.

Activity – Reflect on your 2018-19 Professional Development Plan

Professional Development Goals 2018-2019 What is required by your school/district?  What are your personal goals?
How many PDP points do I wish/need to earn in 2018-19?
How many graduate credits to I wish/need to earn in 2018-19?
What needs do I see among my students after an initial screening and one+ month of class work?
After personal reflection, what skills can I develop to enhance my classroom practice this school year?
What are the curriculum priorities of my school and district?  How do they align with my own needs and my students’ needs?
When is the best time for me to schedule PD?  

Commonwealth Learning Online Institute (CLOI) and Job-Embedded Skills

CLOI courses offer practical, job-embedded, in-depth courses covering a wide variety of reading topics.  Our courses contain a wealth of material including assessments you can use with your students.  Many of our courses offer the opportunity to evaluate an assessment with one of your students, analyze its results, and discuss it online with professional peers.



Strategies for Reading and Writing Nonfiction

By | Educator Resources

The majority of what we read throughout life is nonfiction. For example: news articles about the upcoming storms, manuals to figure out why the mixer stopped working, or street signs that help us get to where we need to go on a daily basis. Teaching nonfiction texts to students can be very difficult. There are so many moving parts: structure, dictionary usage, mentioning subtitles, and recognizing the different text features. For example, let’s take reading the kitchen appliance manual stated earlier. It will take you time to read and figure out why the appliance stopped working. So, you are most likely to refer to the table contents and see where and if you can find the problem to make things easier.

The Common Care State Standards (CCSS) as well as other states have set expectations to increase the amount of nonfiction a student reads. Teachers are required to know the most suitable practices that will aid students in accessing their knowledge and understanding with nonfiction reading and writing. Students show their understanding by expressing themselves verbally and in writing. Teachers can aid students through accessing the text and demonstrating learning utilizing many strategies. Deeper understanding and learning occur with multiple opportunities to interact with the text.

Nonfiction Reading Strategy

In order for teachers to get students immersed in text, teachers must know the most effective technique that will allow students to demonstrate understanding. Students are expected to support claims with specific evidence from the text. In order for them to master their skills; teachers will need to help them build these skills incrementally.

Here are three ways students can substitute their individual view for text evidence:

  1. Reading Pictures to gain insight for specific clues. (This can take time as every student learns at a different pace). They may have to reread the picture for any missing clues, so they have to be committed and practice. This can also be categorized as “close reading” which is a hot topic in education, as students must learn to read a text closely and be able to recognize the idea of the text.
  2. Reasoning allows students to make interpretations and draw conclusions so that they are able to utilize reasoning effectively. (This requires critical thinking). They need to be able to determine what is not clearly specified in the text.
  3. Forge connections between knowledge. (They need to link between distinctive knowledge and text). It is more likely for students to bring forth natural ability of text encounters, if they read from a variety of texts that includes a vast range of topics and genres.



Freebie, Reading, Reading Comprehension, Teaching Strategies. 5 Ideas for Teaching Students How to Read Nonfiction. Retrieved from: http://www.classroomnook.com/2017/02/teaching-nonfiction.html