Here are three approaches to questioning which can be useful in the classroom:


Socratic questions


Socratic questioning is essentially designed to challenge the accuracy and completeness of thinking. It can push students towards a more enriching learning experience. It can help them to explore complex ideas and to open up issues and problems. Essentially, it is critical thinking and will make your students work hard!

Here are some examples:

Clarification questions

  • Why are you saying that?
  • What exactly does that mean?
  • What do we already know about this?

Probing assumptions

  • Please explain why / how…
  • What would happen if..?
  • Why did you decide this?

Probing evidence

  • Are these reasons good enough?
  • How might it be refuted?
  • What evidence is there t support what you are saying?

Questioning viewpoints

  • What alternative ways of looking at this are there?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of..?
  • Why is ….. necessary?

Questions about questions

  • Why did I ask that question?
  • What does that mean?
  • What else might I ask?

These types of questions are ideal for stretch and challenge. They could be used for class discussion, pair or individual tasks, starters, plenaries or home learning!


Bloom’s Taxonomy


I’m sure you’ve heard of Bloom’s Taxonomy but if you haven’t it is a brilliant tool for raising the level of questioning used. The diagram below is a clear visual of the level of thinking skills they require:



One of the best ways I have found to get students to develop their level of questioning is to use Bloom’s question stems. Below are some examples:

Knowledge (Low Level)

  • Can you name the..?
  • Which is true or false?
  • Can you spell..?

Comprehension (Low/Mid Level)

  • Can you summarise..?
  • Can you describe the..?
  • Can you provide a definition for..?

Application (Mid Level)

  • Can you think of further examples of..?
  • What do you think is the key information..?
  • Can you describe for someone else how to..?

Analysis (Mid Level)

  • What are the main differences between..?
  • Can you explain why..?
  • Can you place the following in different categories..?

Synthesis (Mid/High Level)

  • What happens if…?
  • What are the best ways to…?
  • How many ways can you think of to..?

Evaluation (High Level)

  • What better solutions might there be to…?
  • How do you feel about…?
  • Can you defend your position about..?

Again these types of questions can be used in all kinds of classroom situations, from making them part of your planning to asking students to create their own questions using the stems.



Thunks are great little questions which can, at first, seem simple but can result in some excellent discussion! I’ve used these as a kind of pre-starter activity and had them on the board as students come into the room. They are fantastic for igniting critical thinking and facilitating some lively discussion. Some examples:

  • Is abnormal normal?
  • Is there more future or past?
  • Can you feel happy and sad at the same time?


I’ve created some short thunk videos which I’ve put on my YouTube channel to save you time if you’d like to use them. They can be found here.


I hope you’ve found these helpful. Enjoy the rest of your week!

Socratic Questions, Bloom’s Taxonomy and Thunks

2 thoughts on “Socratic Questions, Bloom’s Taxonomy and Thunks

  • January 20, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Thanks! We are going to use some of your Thunks!

    • January 20, 2017 at 10:18 am

      Brilliant, thanks! I hope they inspire some creative debate!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *