Open-ended questions should begin with words such as "why" and "how" or phrases such as "What do you think about . . ." Open-ended questions should lead students to think analytically and critically. Ultimately, a good open-ended question should stir discussion and debate in the classroom sparking enthusiasm and energy in your students.



Asking Open-Ended Questions

A question like "What color is that block?" evokes a one-word answer. But an open-ended question, "Tell me about the blocks you are using," encourages a child to describe the blocks or explain what she is doing. There is no right or wrong answer here.  An answer to an open-ended questions gives us a window into what the child is thinking and feeling. And the response is sometimes wonderfully creative. In explaining or describing, children also use language more fully.  Try to think of good “Open-Ended” questions to ask:

-Tell me about ___________.

-What else can you do with the _________?

-What could you use to make the ___________________?

-What do you think would happen if ________________?

-Is there another way to ___________________?

It is difficult to change the closed-end question habit. But when we ask open-ended questions, students reap great benefits as they think through their responses to express what they want to say.  And with their answers, we find out more about what they think and feel.



Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions cannot be answered by yes or no. These questions begin with "who," "what," "why," "where," and "when."

Some of the questions listed here will feel natural to you and you can practice using them in your work. Circle three or four that you feel most comfortable with and make them part of every small group session you conduct.

1. What kind of information on ________________ are you looking for?

2. What is it you want to know about __________ ?

3. What would you like to know about this topic ?

4. What do you mean by _____________ ?

5. Would you tell me more about....

6. What else can you tell me that might help us locate materials?

7. Could you tell me what you're working on?

8. I'd be interested in knowing....

9. Would you explain...?

10. Is there something specific about ___________ that you are looking for?

11. Would you explain that to me in more detail?

12. I'm not certain I understand.... Can you give me an example?

13. I'm not familiar with _____________ .

14. What examples can you give me?

15. What do you already know about _______ ?

16. Do you know some key concepts, terms or vocabulary for this topic?

17. Where have you checked for information so far?

18. What would you like to know about _____________________________?

19. When you say _______________ , what do you mean?

20. Can you describe the kind of information you would like to find?

21. If I could find the perfect book to help you, what would that book have in it? Or, what would the title be?

22. Where did you hear or read about ________ ?

23. I'm not familiar with that person. Is he/she living or dead? What is he/she known for?

24. How will you use the information? That will help me with our search.

25. I'd like to help you find the best possible information. Can you tell me more about your subject?