There is no such thing as a silly question, or is there?

Questions questions questions! Students want to know anything about everything at a point in time at school, as much as teachers would like to know things about their student. This question could be something as simple as “How was your weekend?” or “Have you started with your Maths assignment yet?”. But is there ever such thing as a silly question? Well, when you think of the time you have to teach in a class, one would think that if you were to put forward an idea through questioning to students, it must have a purpose. But if it was not to direct learning at all, merely having students to reply with a one worded answer, that would be a bit silly, wouldnt it?


The NSWIT Professional Teaching Standards Element 4.1.2 identifies that effective teachers must:

“Demonstrate a range of questioning techniques designed to support student learning”  – NSWIT, 2006.

Effective questioning involves planning on the teachers behalf, in order to ensure its effectiveness as a powerful tool in attaining the desired answer. Alford (2006) believes that amongst the most important aspects of setting tasks and asking questions, is identifying the level of thinking your students will require of the task. From the 1950’s, Benjamin Bloom’s devised a taxonomy to categorise the level of abstraction of questions to commonly occur in schools. These included:

  • Knowledge
  • Comprehension
  • Application
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Evaluation

These were revamped by Lorin Anderson, a student of Blooms in the 1990’s amongst a team of psychologists in order to reflect new notions of the taxonomy, with changes adapted due to the evolving classroom. We can apply this taxonomy through a variety of strategies which are well illustrated across a variety of documented literature, being utilised by teachers through adapting strategic questions to their classroom. These questions include those  which are planned to match points the teacher wishes to decelop, to those that invoke higher cognitive thinking on behalf of the student.


Forehand (2005) found with 80% of talking in the classroom performed by the teacher and with a vast majority of questions being asked in the “lower order” category of the Revised Blooms Taxonomy, it is important that the application of higher order questioning to be planned and adapted into the teaching routine, of which has not been evident at my practical placement as such. We are simply only able to gain a simple ‘single worded’ answer from a student, gaining nothing but a repetition of what is spoken to a student, rather than an idea or thought.


The application of these open questions, to allow for higher order thinking to take place, we are influencing students to direct their own learning, create their own opportunities and find their own understanding of a question, rather than asking for someone else to provide this answer (Forehand, 2005). The opportunity for further learning is found in those students who are more likely to read a book because they are interested in the content, rather than because ‘they have to’. Intuition is the key to discovery, with teachers merely fostering this development as opposed to directing and explaining.

Until next time,

Mr. Stevens.

Also, here are some helpful links to effective questioning and Blooms Taxonomy:

Applying Blooms Taxonomy in the Classroom: Retrieved from (

Powerpoint on the effectiveness of Blooms Taxonomy: Retrieved from (

Blooms Taxonomy Video in Teaching: Retrieved from (


Alford, G., Herbert, P., & Frangenheim, E. (2006). Bloom’s Taxonomy Overview. Innovative Teachers Companion , 176 – 224. ITC Publications.

Forehand, M. (2005). Bloom’s taxonomy: Original and revised. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved 18 April, 2014,  from


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