Use higher-order questions to help students build explanations.
Across subject areas, when teachers ask higher-order questions and provide opportunities for students to develop deep explanations, learning is enhanced. Higher-order questions often start with question stems like: why, what caused, how did it occur, what if, how do they compare, or what is the evidence? When teachers ask higher-order questions and encourage explanations, they are helping their students to develop important critical thinking skills.
There are a number of ways teachers can encourage their students to develop explanations. During class discussions, homework assignments, or while reading, teachers can encourage students to explain their thinking out loud or in writing. Units of study that begin with a provocative question, or set of questions, will also encourage students to develop explanations and deepen their understanding of key content.
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