Question Quadrant: Types of Questions

Year 7, Term 1 Unit: Introduction to Philosophy/Identity

Lesson type: Activity – exploring types of questions

Theme: Open, intellectual questions (Epistemology, Logic and Reasoning)

Specific inquiry/reasoning skill: Giving reasons | Rule focus: Thinking about what other people mean

Purpose: To understand the different question types so that Philosophical questions can be recognised.

  • ‘Reason’ card
  • Speaker’s ball
  • Reflection journals

Lesson Outline

Preliminary activities (5-10mins)
  1. Foreground focus skill: giving reasons. (Indicated by word ‘because’).
  2. Warm up your thinking: Are questions important? Why? Discuss with neighbour. Report back.
Main activity
  1. Question Quadrant activity (Philosophical Inquiry requires us to be able to identify philosophical questions.)
    • Difference between a question and a statement (one requires an answer).
    • Put out vertical ribbon. First distinction is between open and closed questions. Discuss difference (settled and not settled answers). (From Set A cards).
    • Distribute example questions appropriately (Set B cards).
    • Put out horizontal ribbon. Next distinction is between surface level questions and questions that you really need to think about – higher order, deeper, or ‘big’ questions. (From Set A cards)
    • Use card set containing ‘literary comprehension’ (from Set A) to identify the four quadrants.
    • Using the cards that have already been determined as being closed questions, further categorise them as being surface level, closed questions and higher order, closed questions.
    • Further categorise the open questions as being surface level, open questions and higher order, open questions.
    • Distribute remaining sets of cards to pairs of students (Set C cards). They should decide together where on the quadrant the questions go, and give each other their reasons. They may need access to the appropriate nursery rhyme. Ask them not to put their cards out until asked. Give time.
    • Students place cards on floor where they can be seen by everyone. They should then walk around and see if there are any cards (other people’s) they think are in the wrong place (look for same card in different places).
    • Discuss the differences – seek reasons and ask if the group that placed the card wants to change it, etc.
    • Ask students to indicate (by pointing or by standing in the quadrant) which quadrant has the questions that would be the most interesting to discuss in PI.
Suggested teacher procedural questions (for use during lesson)
  • What is your reason for placing the question there?
  • Are there any cards that you think are in the wrong place?
  • Are we listening well to other people and thinking about their reasons?

NB: For an extension activity, please refer to Follow up Exercise resource.

Student reflection (10 mins)
  1. Whole group reflection (oral):
    • How did we work as a community of learners?
    • Did we value the thinking of others? What did you see that demonstrated this for you?
    • Did we give good reasons today? Give an example.
  2. Individual reflection (written):
    • Something interesting about questions is…
    • A big question I would like to discuss is…

Teacher reflection
  • What was something surprising a student said?
  • What was something that worked well?
  • What is something I’d like to work on for next time?