2-Minute Strategies 4-MIN. READ

Help Students Ask Great Questions

By: Connie Warren 11/08/2022
Check out these quick tips for helping your students ask better questions to deepen their learning. 
Student raising their hand in class.

Asking questions deepens engagement. But when we push students to come up with questions on the spot, without time to really think about them, their questions tend to be low level and lack clarity. However, if you provide support and time to reflect, your students can learn to develop quality questions that will lead to quality learning.

Here are five ideas to help your students generate better questions. 

1. Think, Pair, Square  

Students work collaboratively with a partner to develop questions. Then, with group support, they refine their thinking.  


  • Pairs of students write two or more interesting questions.
  • Students share their questions with another pair.  
  • The four-person team selects the most thought-provoking question to use in a whole class discussion. 

2. 10 by 10

Students create 10 questions about a topic in 10 minutes (Berger, 2014). The time limit helps students focus their thinking. Ten by 10 is useful after a reading, before discussing a topic, or to activate students’ prior knowledge or interest in a topic.


  • Set a visual timer for 10 minutes.
  • Students generate 10 questions that spark their thinking.
  • They select the best question to use in discussion.

3. Visual Cue

Post a captivating visual or show a media clip related to content you’ve recently covered. Then, ask your students to pose questions to be used for discussions.


  • Select a visual or media clip that will spur your students’ thinking.
  • Have them develop between two and four thoughtful questions that connect to the learning target for the day.

4. Question Continuum

Students create and evaluate a range of questions and, as a group, determine which are most relevant and complex (Quigley, 2012).


  • Post the Question Continuum on a display board, or use a digital tool like Padlet™. Mark the horizontal axis “Interest Level” and the vertical axis “Complexity.”
  • Explain that Interest Level represents how much the question relates to the content, inspires new ideas, and promotes debate and discussion. Complexity represents how well the question sparks critical thinking. Recall questions, closed questions, and factual questions are at the low end of the complexity axis, while questions that promote deep thinking are at the high end.
  • Have students work in pairs and use two sticky notes to write two questions and post them in the appropriate places on the continuum. At least one should be in the higher-level quadrant.
  • Next, examine the questions as a group, discuss, evaluate their placement on the continuum, and select a few to use for a discussion.

5. Priority Questions

This small group method helps students develop deep questions (Rothstein & Santana, 2011) by teaching them to design a variety of questions while discouraging discussion about the questions themselves during the process.


  • Break students into small groups (i.e., three to five students).
  • Identify the focus of the questions (i.e., topic, issue, or main emphasis). It should spark interest and new thinking while deepening understanding.
  • Students should construct as many questions as possible to promote divergent thinking. Refrain from providing question examples during the brainstorming process to encourage students to think in a variety of ways.
  • Record every question posed to ensure all voices in the classroom are heard.
  • Don’t discuss, evaluate, or answer any question during the brainstorming phase. This promotes a safe environment and prevents any negative or unproductive comments from hijacking the process.
  • Differentiate between closed and open questions by explaining that closed questions can be answered with a word or two, while open questions often require elaboration or more detail. Ask your students to classify their questions as open or closed, then practice changing closed questions into open ones by including the words “how” or “why.”
  • Each group selects their three most important questions, called “Priority Questions,” for discussion. They report back to the whole class with their rationale for selecting the questions and students compare, analyze, and evaluate as a group.

When students actively ask questions, they become more active learners. Help your students build their questioning skills and their confidence.

Have an idea we missed? Email us at blog@cainc.com.

Berger, W. (2014a). A more beautiful question. Bloomsbury.  
Berger, W. (2014b). Five ways to help your students become better questioners. Edutopia. 
Quigley, A. (2012). Hunting English.
Rothstein, D., & Santana, L. (2011). Make just one change: Teach students to ask their own questions. Harvard University Press.  
Padlet™ is a trademark of Wallwisher, Inc.