Sunday, September 16, 2007

Levels of Questions

Students in World Literature create their own questions about the novels that they then pose to the class for open forum classroom discussions. To get students beyond simple content questions, I reviewed with them the three levels of questions that I learned both from an NUA session a few years ago and from Augsburg's Paideia Institute.

This is how I worded the types of questions for my students:

Stage 1 Questions: (Re-tell the story.) These are content questions where the answer is right there in black and white. These questions are similar to reading quiz questions. You may ask a stage 1 question when you feel clarification is needed regarding the facts surrounding the plot, settings or characters.

Stage 2 Questions: (Extend the story to themes.) These theme questions uncover the deeper meaning of a text. What is the author's central meaning or life lesson? Theme questions get at eliciting people's opinions that are supported with textual references.

Stage 3 Questions: (Connect the themes to personal experiences or world events.) These questions allow students to express their opinions about personal and world issues that they feel are relevant to their lives. Opinions and debate abound when these questions are posed to the class in an open forum. You will almost hear Socrates whispering, "good job," as you take World Literature: A Senior Seminar to this highest stage of discourse.

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