Open Ended Questions to Foster Discussion

Last year our faculty did an entire year of training on Responsive Classroom with the Morning Meeting aspect.  It has been very helpful to get students talking.  Every day during my morning hall duty, the kindergarteners come by and shake my hand to say "Hello!"  And not just any hand, but the right hand.  How cool is that!

This year we are working on another part, The Power of Our Words: Teacher Language that Helps Children Learn (Responsive Classroom).  We are using the book as a book study, and it is eye-opening!
One of the things that struck me was how we question children when they are learning.  How many of you simply ask "Yes/No" questions and move on?  Sometimes it happens, but it doesn't foster discussion in the classroom among your students.  The reading we had for our last meeting delved deeply into using open ended questions for discussion in all subject areas, but the best example was given in a reading class.  You can actually see an excerpt of that chapter by clicking {here}.  What was so amazing was that I opened up my email with my latest edition of The Reading Teacher to find an article about open ended questions on that same day!  Wow!

Open ended can really open up discussion before, during, and after reading a book.  Students truly enjoy engaging in the discussion and want to be heard.  So many times I have to remind my own self to stop talking and just listen to the conversations.  I love how in the article the kids start to externalize their thinking, and the teacher knows where to go with discussion.  That is how we should decide on what the kids want to learn.  And I can guarantee that every student was engaged in the book because they had taken stock in it!  The vocabulary wasn't chosen by the teacher.  The predictions weren't decided by the teacher.  The kids helped mold the lesson!  How powerful!

Open ended questions should begin with words like


But I feel like how and why start the best discussions.  I have an almost three year old who asks these all the time to learn about the world around her.  When she asks, I answer until I can't find the answer.  It's funny because my nine year old is the same way!  And I embrace those questions!

Since thinking of these questions may be a challenge, or you may want to use some for students to discuss together, I have created a set of open ended questions cards for fiction.  These are perfect for students to use before, during, and after reading.  They even make a great literacy center.  Click {here} or on the image below to grab your free set of discussion cards!

How do you use open ended questions in discussion?  How does it foster a sense of excitement and discussion?  If you haven't used them, how would you use them in your classroom?

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


  1. Thanks for the open ended questions. This will help foster classroom discussions.

    Smiling and Shining in Second Grade

  2. I love the question cards. Thanks for sharing.

    Third Grade Galore

  3. Hope you don't mind that I just shared this on my FB page!

  4. Thanks so much for these! I am going to use them tomorrow along with our chapter book read aloud!

  5. Thanks for the post. This book may just need to be added to my "need to read" list. Language is such a barrier at my school. Anything we can do to help, we try! So thanks!
    Curious Firsties

  6. Such a cute freebie! I just saved it to use soon! Thanks for sharing :)


  7. This is so true- thanks!

    I also love Peter Johnson's book "Choice Words: How our language affects Children's Learning". It's not necessarily about open ended questions, but talks about how ordinary phrases and words we use impact and teach children. It's very insightful!

    Real Teachers Learn


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