Guiding Questions

UDL 3.3

Guiding questions are questions provided to students, either in writing or spoken verbally, while they are working on a task. Asking guiding questions allows students to move to higher levels of thinking by providing more open-ended support that calls students' attention to key details without being prescriptive. Guiding questions might prompt students to recall key previous knowledge; focus students on the most important issues; help students move from the factual to the analytic; guide students through a higher-order thinking process (problem solving, hypotheses formation); help students see connections; have students consider what has or has not worked in the past; or sustain student engagement by involving them as active participants in thinking and analysis.

Ready-to-Use Resources

Planning Guide

Guiding Questions Planning Template

A template for planning guiding questions within lessons and activities. Use this resource to develop guiding questions at different cognitive levels using Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Levels. This resource also includes an overview of DOK levels and instructions for using the template.

Grade K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 · English Language Arts, Reading, Writing, Speaking, Math · 4 pages

Implementation Tips

Providing Questions Proactively
Guiding questions can be provided either proactively or reactively. For example, a teacher may provide a printed hand-out to all students with helpful questions to consider as they are working through a process, or a teacher may opt to monitor students' progress and create guiding questions in the moment.
Open-ended Questions
Where possible, avoiding focusing students' attention on specific steps (e.g., "What do you do next in the Writing Process?"). Instead, use guiding questions to help students notice features of an overarching concept rather than specific procedural tasks (e.g., "How does your narrative sound when you read it aloud?" "What are some ways you could make the sentence fluency stronger?").
Written and Verbal Questions
Depending on the needs of the learner, questions can be provided in written or verbal form, and the level of specificity of the questions can increase or decrease.


Math - Linear Equations
When graphing linear equations in math, questions might include: "What do the symbols in this equation tell us about the shape of the graph?" "In the slope-intercept form, how is m different than b?" "Can you find any ordered pairs that are solutions to this equation?"
Inferencing from Informational Text
When drawing inferences while reading informational text, questions might include: "What does the text say, explicitly and implicitly, about this event?" "Why do you think the author referred to this event in this way?" "What are some possible inferences that can be made?" "What conclusion can you draw about this event using what the text says explicitly and implicitly?"
Revising and Editing
When revising a written narrative for word choice, questions might include: "Does the language of this narrative effectively convey the characters, events and setting?" "How do the words you've used serve to paint a picture for the reader?" "Are there opportunities to include richer language?"

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