Question Starters

Even though fact-based questions can be helpful in assessing what students know, those types of questions aren’t very open-ended. They usually require a specific answer. The more open-ended a question is, the more we can understand what a student knows (or doesn’t know) because it requires him to explain what he knows in his own words.

But even more revealing than how a student answers is a question is the type of questions the student asks after a lesson. We can better understand what they already know and what they’re confused about and what they still have questions about based on the things they ask. That being said, sometimes it’s difficult to get students to formulate questions for us.

Use some of these question starters as a starting point when your students have a tough time coming up with their own questions:

  • Why…?
  • What if…?
  • When ___ happened, did that cause…?
  • Who…?
  • Where was…?
  • Was ___ a result of…?
  • I wonder…
  • I don’t understand…
  • I was confused when…
  • How did they…?
  • Another way I could have solved this…
  • What am I trying to find out…?
  • When the author said ___, did it mean…?
  • Why did the character…?
  • Am I right when I infer that…?

Katrina Martin

Katrina Martin is the owner of Katrina's Resources and a B-6 certified teacher in New York State. She specializes in elementary education and curriculum development. You can read her blog at or view her educational resources on

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