Three Ways to Get Results with Open-Ended Questions
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Open-Ended Questions: 3 Ways to Get Results

Open-Ended Questions: 3 Ways to Get Results is part 1 in a three-part series on Open-Ended Questions. You can read part 2 here: Scaffolding Students in Open-Ended Questions.

In the reading comprehension warm-ups, you’ll find a variety of tasks, and one of the most beneficial tasks for learning is open-ended questions. In this post, I’ll share three ways to get results with open-ended questions as a part of your daily warm-up routine.

These 3 strategies can be used with any open-ended task card, including the opened task card projectables in our inferring main idea warm-ups.

Open-ended questions allow students to develop thoughts; Multiple-choice questions force students to conform their thinking.Click To Tweet

Read, Pair, Read, Write

Instead of simply posting the warm-up and letting students answer the question, let’s engage quality thinking and scaffolding.

  1. Students read the text silently (30-60 seconds).
  2. Pair with an elbow buddy (or use a strategy such as Give-One-Get-One) and discuss the most important details in the text.
  3. Reread the text again as a class in a shared reading format.
  4. Write the answer to an open-ended question.

This strategy gets results because it scaffolds students thinking during the paired talking, and it scaffolds student reading skills in the rereading step.

Fish For Thoughts, Not Answers

An open-ended question allows students to express their thoughts. A multiple-choice question forces students to conform their thinking.

Be careful not to use open-ended questions as a way to create conformity, but use them as a way to fish for students’ thoughts. Here an example:

Task Card: “What is the paragraph mostly about?” (A question with a right/wrong answer)

Student: “It was about how the war started.” (Incorrect)

Teacher: “That’s interesting you say that. What details make you think about the war?”

Student responds with a few text details that mention a war, but none of them mention the start of a war.

Teacher: “Yes, those details discuss the war. I didn’t hear you say anything about the start of the war. What makes you think about the start?”

Student: “Well…” (struggles with pinpointing text evidence)

Teacher: “I can tell you’re rethinking. Would you like to revise what you think the main idea is?”

You can see in this dialogue the teacher is fishing for student thinking, asking for justification, and giving opportunities for the student to try again. This is how to fish for thoughts – it’s different than asking for answers.

Read, Connect, Write

This technique is great for engaging all four aspects of literary (speaking, listening, reading, writing) into a short amount of time.

  1. Read: Students read the text silently.
  2. Connect: Provide 30 seconds for students to turn and talk about a connection they can make (text-to-self, text-to-world, text-to-text).
  3. Write: Students respond to the open-ended prompt in a quick write.

Open-Ended Questions

These three strategies can be used with any open-ended question, but they work especially well in our no-prep reading comprehension task card projectables, which are a part of the spiral warm-ups.

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