“Always the beautiful answer, who asks a more beautiful question.”- E E Cummings

The Question Matrix below was designed by Chuck Weiderhold in 1991. It contains 36 question starters asking what, where, when, which, who, why and how. Proceeding through the matrix, the questions become more complex and open-ended.

The Question Matrix can be used:
  • to help students create their own questions about a specific topic and to encourage in-depth thinking
  • as question starters for teachers to elicit further information about a student’s knowledge and understanding of a topic
  • to formulate questions for a particular purpose eg organising a camp

NB: Red headings indicate the contexts that these question starters are generally used.

What is?
Where / When is?
Which did?
Who is?
Why is?
How is?
What did?
Where / When did?
Which did?
Who did?
Why did?
How did?
What can?
Where / When can?
Which can?
Who can?
Why can?
How can?
What would?
Where / When would?
Which would?
Who would?
Why would?
How would?
What will?
Where / When will?
Which will?
Who will?
Why will?
How will?
What might?
Where / When might?
Which might?
Who might?
Why might?
How might?
How the Question Matrix could be displayed in the classroom:


The following slideshare can be printed (as handouts) so teachers can make up their own question matrix for the classroom. Thanks Whaea Kim for this excellent resource:)

You may also like this idea adapted from the matrix called Question Cue Cards

Other Tools and Strategies

If you want to help students learn to ask beautiful questions, try playing the following Question Game with them. With enough encouragement and practice, they will develop the ability and courage to ask high-level questions. The Question Game is also great to play as a pre-writing exercise before students compose a piece of writing as it takes the topic to new levels of depth.
To start the game, write on the teacher board any topic related to your lesson ie: insects, marbles, cats, spiders etc.” Ask students to ask open-ended questions about the topic you have defined, and write them down. Any question is acceptable as long as it is open-ended and has not been asked before. The game is over when the timer beeps and/or students can no longer offer a related open-ended question without repeating one already asked.

STUDENT GENERATED QUESTIONS: For example, the topic could be “success”:
Student 1: Why is it important to have success?
Student 2: How is the definition of success different in other countries?external image 24213-Clipart-Illustration-Of-A-Lime-Green-Businessman-Holding-A-Large-Golden-Skeleton-Key-Symbolizing-Success.jpg
Student 3: How can someone be happy without being successful?
Student 4: What part do parents play in determining a child’s level of success?
Student 5: What would happen if the word “success” was eliminated from the dictionary?
Student 6: How do I know that I have been successful in this class?
Student 7: Who is the most successful person that you know and why?
Student 8: What might success have to do with money?
Student 9: How does being successful really feel?
Student 10: If you were fully successful, what would you have accomplished?

INSTRUCTOR GENERATED QUESTIONS: After students have created a long list of questions, you can begin to draw out life lessons from the experience they have just participated in. Questions for processing the Question Game:
1. How did you feel during the game?external image green-circle---way-to-success-thumb9526132.jpg
2. Did your emotions change during the game? If so, why?
3. How comfortable are you asking questions in this lesson?
4. What could you do to feel more comfortable asking questions in our classroom?
5. Which question in the list we made is the most “beautiful” and why?
6. What are the characteristics of a “beautiful” question?
7. What are some questions you have about this lesson?
8. What do you think are the most important questions that should be asked?
9. What questions do you anticipate require deeper thinking?
10. What did you learn or relearn while playing The Question Game?

One option for processing the Question Game:
Pick a question (either Student Generated or Instructor Generated) and ask everyone to write an answer. (2 min)
Put students in pairs (pair/share) to discuss the answers they wrote. (5 min)
Have each pair join another pair (pair/square) and each student tells the new pair his/her partner’s answer. (10 min)
Choose students at random to share their answer with the entire group and lead a discussion of the answers. (5-30 min, depending upon the number of students you call upon to share)
external image questioning-wordle-b.jpg

external image questioning.jpg
Website Links that relate to Questioning

Joan Dalton's - Applying Bloom's Taxonomy NEW
Jamie McKenzie - A Questioning Toolkit NEW
Larry Taylor - The Power of Kids' Own Questions NEW

HOTs - Higher Order Thinking Skills
A common example used by Dr. Chuck Weiderhold that is based on the application of Bloom’s Taxonomy
Base-line Questioning Assessment
Base-line Questioning Assessment
A new look at questioning and how to assess questioning skills.
This process that has been used across a range of schools to obtain school-wide data on children's assessment skills. Trevor Bond - QuEST

Questionize.com - Ask any question!
Got a question? ANY question what so ever? Ask it at Questionize.com and tap into the knowledge of other visitors.

Questioning in the Classroom
Questioning is critical to the teaching-learning process. When working with young children, ask lots of questions. Not sure what to ask? Try these for starters ...

Essential Questions
Answers to essential questions cannot be copied and pasted from the Internet.
Get an understanding of what an essential question is or should be | Look at some sample essential questions | Use the Question Brainstormer to generate essential questions | Good Question Cubes |

Effective Classroom Questioning
Effective Classroom Questioning
Levels and Types of Questions | Bloom's Taxonomy | Planning Questions | Interaction Skills | Methods for Assessing Questioning Skills | Student Evaluation of Questioning Skills |

The Question Mark
The Question Mark - An educational magazine devoted to questioning, good intelligence, strategic reading and quality teaching. Pedagogy does matter!

The Question is the Answer
The Question is the Answer
Creating Research Programs for An Age of Information
Which Questions Matter? This is a Questioning Toolkit by Jamie McKenzie

Costa's Level of Inquiry
Being able to recognize different levels of questions is beneficial for all - Art Costa