If you are not familiar with the concept of low and high order questions you are encouraged to read this article first (and return to this article afterwards).
Combine low and high order questions in your lessons to check learning and also provide opportunities for new thinking.
This approach can be planned in advance of the lesson, but it typically works best in real-time and in response to the answers that students are providing.
The effectiveness of this approach is associated with the teacher’s ability to ask the right question, at the right time, to the right student.
By shifting between low and high order questions the teacher is able to maintain an appropriate level of challenge and support for students.
The teacher would ask low order questions to clarify facts and opinions and layer high order questions around this to encourage students to think and discuss more deeply.
The teacher could start a discussion by posing a high order question which students are able to think about and respond to, such as, ‘Why is Usain Bolt the fastest man in the world?’
Students could think about this individually or discuss it in pairs or in groups.
The students could then provide their responses to the question.
The teacher could then ask a series of low order follow-up questions to clarify some of the key points raised by students, such as, ‘Do you think genetics are an important factor?’ (or) ‘Is height important?’ (or) ‘What about confidence?’
The teacher could then use the information provided by the students to pose another high order question for students to discuss, such as, ‘Out of the factors you have identified, which one(s) do you think contribute most to Usain Bolt’s success as a sprinter?’
This approach of high order discussion questions and low order clarifying questions is a good way to simultaneously check check learning and also provide opportunities for new thinking.
The sequence and combination of low and high order questions is entirely up to the teacher and can vary depending on the responses students are providing.