Some of the teachers that I am working with are excited by the quality of work emerging from their newly launched cooperative learning and literature circles groups. Most of them began by defining specific roles and guiding group discussion, but some are eager to begin supporting students in their creation of own quality questions.

The  role cards and job assignments that are sometimes used early in this work are only intended as a temporary scaffold. Some teachers prefer not to use them at all, comfortably inviting students to engage in conversation and meaning-making on their own, assessing where they could use some added support, and modeling the improvements they would like to see in how they work together. Meaningful group exchanges occur when students are provided tools to engage in true discourse. The following resources might be helpful to those who are beginning questioning work with kids:

I tend to find that teachers who gradually release responsibility to students around this feel more successful, so you might consider spending a good amount of time defining and modeling what you’d like to see your students doing. Think aloud, and don’t be afraid to allow your kids listen. It may feel a little uncomfortable at first if you aren’t used to teaching this way, but you’ll get used to it in no time at all, and your kids will gain some clarity along the way.


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