Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction- Questioning

‘One of the strongest implications from Rosenshine’s ‘Principles of instruction’ is that effective questioning lies at the heart of great instructional teaching. Lines up with the work of Nuthall, Wiliam and others, It’s clear that this needs to be a highly interactive, dynamic, responsive process.’ (Tom Sherrington)

This week our fantastic Duo Mr Black and Mr Okemadu delivered our Personal Learning Network session on the importance of effective questioning.

Mr Black, Our Head of English spoke about the clarity of the questions we ask, the focus of the question and its intention and of course the idea of involving all students and have them take ownership for their learning.

Cold Calling is Inclusive  (Based on Lemov) ‘Teach Like a Champion’

Mr Black spoke of the importance of engaging all students and ensuring that all pupils were prepared to answer a question and being expected to work hard to find the answer if unsure. The ‘no hands up’ rule is encouraged in his classroom and he chooses wo answers.

Some teachers can be initially very dubious about cold calling and the fear of the unnerving silence in the room. What if pupils don’t answer? What if the room becomes lack lustre and uninspired? However, cold calling, with time and perseverance does exactly the opposite- it prepares all pupils in your room to prepare an answer and be ready to share  with the class. It creates an inclusive and safe atmosphere for all pupils to take risks, share ideas and work together to find the best answer to the question.

Put another way, the Cold Call has already done the hard work—it’s established that students should always be ready to share their thoughts and participate, that to be in class is to be a part of the conversation.  Given that, part of the teacher’s job is to add a smile and some warmth, to message, ‘Yes, I expect you to participate when I call on you, but I am doing that because I want to hear what you are thinking, I care about what you are thinking.’ Really, a Cold Call is a good thing. To say, I care what you are thinking is to remind a student that they matter. 


picture 1

Mr Black also spoke about the technique called ‘Track the Speaker’

track the speaker

Mr Black discussed the idea of making pupils accountable for the questions and answers within the room. He uses the acronym of ‘SLANT’ to ensure that pupils are trained to answer and most importantly listen to each other and learn from their responses.

The next time you are asking questioning- try and pre plan what type of questions and responses you are looking for. Please see the table below for reference.

Discussion Elements Looks Like Sounds Like
Active Listening Eyes on speaker
Hands empty
Sit up
Mind is focused
Face speaker
Speakerís voice only
Paying attention
Appropriate responses
Voices low
One voice at a time
Active Participation
(respond to ideas and share feelings)
Eyes on speaker
Hands to yourself
Hands empty
Talking one at a time
Head nodding
Appropriate responses
Follow off othersí ideas
Nice comments
Positive attitudes
Asking Questions
for Clarification
Hands empty
Positive, nice questions
Polite answers
Off Others’ Ideas
Paying attention
Postive, nice talking
Wait for people to finish
Disagreeing Constructively Nice face
Nice looks
Polite responses
Quiet voices
No put downs
Focused on Discussion
(body posture and eye contact)
Eyes on speaker
Hands empty
Sit up
Face speaker
Mind is focused
Speaker’s voice only
Appropriate responses
Voices low
Supporting Opinions
with Evidence
One person talking
Attention on the speaker
One voice
Encouraging Others Prompt people to share
Ask probing questions
Positive responses

5 Questions to Tackle in Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques

Mr Okemadu then spoke about making Questioning simple in Maths- which was a fascinating concept. He used Blooms to show us that really what we really want pupils to be able to tell us in maths is-

  1. What are we doing?
  2. How are we doing it?
  3. Why are we doing it?

picture 2


The Learning Rainforest by Tom Sherrington suggests the following strategies for effective and responsive questioning: 

  1. Whole class response with whiteboards 
  2. probing and dialogic questions
  3. quick quizzes
  4. Hinge questions
  5. cold-call questioning
  6. randomised questioning

He states that we ‘need to use the feedback you are gaining as a teacher from your students to decide what happens next. More examples? Further explanatory response? More practice? or jumping forward to the next thing.’ 

So this week- think about your questions and try something you haven’t used before. Leave us some feedback- we would love to hear from you.


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