Direct Questioning – Where’s the Challenge?

By Karen McCafferty

I am frequently asked how to stretch and challenge all students in a lesson (apart from providing the most able students with extension activities).  An easy way to check all students’ understanding, to differentiate and to stretch and challenge is by asking directed questions.

The table below is taken from the book Rigor is not a Four Letter Word and can be found on Pintrest in ‘Education’

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When planning your lesson, devise a series of questions starting with the appropriate two words from the table. You will find that if you practice this regularly, asking differentiated/stretch and challenge questions becomes second nature.

Did you know? (facts taken from article on TES website)

  • Teachers ask up to two questions every minute, up to 400 in a day, around 70,000 a year, or two to three million in the course of a career
  • Questioning accounts for up to a third of all teaching time, second only to the time devoted to explanation
  • Most questions are answered in less than a second. That’s the average time teachers allow between posing a question and accepting an answer, throwing it to someone else, or answering it themselves
  • Research has found, however, that increasing the wait time improves the number and quality of the responses – three seconds for a lower-order question and more than 10 seconds for a higher-order question.

If you have not yet discovered Pintrest it is worth signing up and making ‘Education’ one of your favourites. You will receive regular email updates with recommended pins –


One thought on “Direct Questioning – Where’s the Challenge?

  1. Thanks Karen, useful reminder, I like to plan a selection of questions before a session as you suggest. Also worth using this chart when structuring tasks or assignments.
    A word of caution on Pinterest it can open up a flood of intrusive distracting shopping emails. Carefully consider your interests.


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