Say Whaaa?: A lesson on Questions

Given our political climate I decided to make a strong commitment to focus on critical thinking and research skills this year in order to raise a strong independent thinker.  We are doing a year long themester on narratives. 

Vocabulary Words

Open-ended Questions - questions that will solicit additional information.

Closed-ended Questions - questions that result in "yes" or "no" responses.

Assumption/Assuming - an assuming that something is true

Imply - to express (something) in an indirect way : to suggest (something) without saying or showing it plainly

Bias - an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially :  a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment :  prejudice c :  an instance of such prejudice d (1) :  deviation of the expected value of a statistical estimate from the quantity it estimates (2) :  systematic error introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others

I recently taught a few lessons on questions as part of our unit on research. I decided to start here so he has the tools for critical analysis and the vocabulary for discussion and writing. First, we listened to the Big Universe, Big Questions episode of Brains On!. I choose this episode because many of our science lessons last year focused on space and because interviews are a form of research.

I used the Socratic method of teaching for things like this because I have found it to be the most effective method for fostering critical thinking. Each lesson has vocabulary words. He is required to write the vocabulary words and be able to use them in written and verbal responses.

Conversation Questions:

  • We have learned about two types of questions, Open-ended & Closed; Which type of question was used most often during the podcast?
  • If you met a friend at the park what type of questions would you ask? Why that type of question? Can you give me two examples of questions you might ask?
  • Why is it important to do research before conducting an interview?
  • Do you think assumptions are always bad?
  • How can assumptions influence the questions you create?
  • Do you think bias is always bad?
  • How can bias influence the questions you create?
  • Bias is a systematic error introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others. What do you think that means? 


Listen to the podcast again. This time stop to talk about new observations using the new vocabulary.

Write each vocabulary word and a definition in your own words.

Write 5 interview questions, examine your questions for assumptions and bias. Are they closed or open? Do they imply anything, if so examine what they imply and how it may effect the interview.

Our minds are great at filling in the spaces others leave behind, but do we have the critical thinking skills to really examine what we are being told and the purpose the narrative serves?