Discover how these four base questions can open up a world of dialog in your classrooms.


Ben Johnson wants to know: How many times have you asked your class “Does everybody understand?” Probably a lot, without even thinking about it. Here’s what the Texas educator says that question really means:

“What we really end up telling the students when we ask this sort of question is, ‘OK, here is your last chance. If you don’t ask any questions, then you understand completely, and I am free to go on to the next subject. Because I asked this fair question, and gave you a fair chance to answer, I am absolved from any lack of understanding on your part.'”

Instead of asking questions that are met with silence, here are four questions you can use as a base to help your students dig deeper, no matter the subject material.

  1. What does the text say? (Think: What symbols is the author using throughout the story? What is their role?)
  2. What does the text mean? (Think: How does the narrator reflect societal views on the theme?)
  3. How does the text inspire you? (Think: What would you say to the author if you could meet him/her?)
  4. How does the text work? (Think: Does the author repeat any words or phrases? Why?)

Teacher leader Douglas Fisher, an Arizona K12 Center favorite presenter, shares how to make these questions work for your classroom.


Do you have a favorite classroom prompt? We’d love to hear it!

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