Questioning Techniques for the Gifted

As parents and teachers, we want to stimulate the thinking of gifted kids by posing open questions and teaching students how to create their own open questions.

A closed question is one that can be answered with either a single word or a short phrase (i.e., "How old are you?" or "Where do you live?" or any question that can be answered with either "yes" or "no").

An open question, however, requires a longer, more involved response and does not have one correct answer; instead, it causes the respondent to think and reflect.

There are several resources available to help teachers create open questions in the classroom. Parents can use these same resources to guide interesting conversations at home and promote good problem-solving skills.

Open questioning techniques include essential questions and critical thinking questions.

This Web site lists seven key components that essential questions have in common.

Examples of essential questions include:
  • What are the ramifications of cloning?
  • What is intelligence?
  • Are we really free?
  • Where does perception end and reality begin?
  • Does history really repeat itself?
  • Are there any absolutes?
  • Are there other more pressing issues that deserve consideration before space exploration?
  • What was the greatest invention of the 20th Century?
Although the information provided at this site is designed for college students, most gifted students are fully capable of using the techniques. I especially like the generic questioning stems, such as:
  • What are the implications of …?
  • How does … tie in with what we have learned before?
  • Do you agree or disagree with this statement? What evidence is there to support your answer?
There are also very good suggestions for using critical thinking in student writing at this site.

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