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Open-ended Questions

Open-ended Questions

Name the Allies of WW ll.

Name the three states of matter

15 x 25  equals what?

Facts. Knowledge-based questions.

Stage 1 of Blooms Taxonomy.They have one correct answer and require very little brain power. You don’t have to figure anything. Just a simple robotic recall and Boom Bam baby, you got an answer. Forget how you got there. Never mind if you did it different than your neighbor. All we care about is the right answer.

Close-ended questions are so … closed. Dead ends. They go no where fast and the thinking, the learning, the creativity is shut in, shut down, and shut out.  Can you hear the brain cells dying as our kids are bored to extinction with reading, writing and ‘rithmetic let alone science and history?

What are we most concerned about as educators and parents? Correct answers, standardized test scores or kids who can think and solve and create and contribute, and invent?

What are open-ended questions?

“Opened-questions help students explore possibilities, clarify thinking, and produce evidence-based conclusions,”

states Kathy Checkley from ASCD. Close-ended can often be answered with a yes or no or a one word answer. Open-ended questions ar non-googleable. Close-ended questions have only 1 right answer and usually require very little high level thinking skills.  Open-ended questions require, thought, synthesis, lists, comparing, contrasting, inferencing etc. Check out Blooms Taxonomy for a list of higher level thinking skills.

How do we turn our dead-end questions into vibrant learning opportunities?

Consider our boring list above. Let’s “open up” these close-ended questions.

Name the allies of WWll  becomes Name 4 things that  could have happened if the Allies did not  stop the Axis Powers.

Name the three states of matter becomes Does a gram  of water retain its mass in all three states of matter?

15 x 25  equals what? becomes How many different ways can you solve 15 x 25?

(ex: 10 x 25 plus 5 x 25; 10 x 30;  or 30 x 50/4.)

Bored kids answer questions.

Challenged students create.

World-changers innovate.

As we open the questions,  we open the minds of our children.

Parents can use the open ended questions over the dinner table or in the commute from school to home. How can you change this popular dead-end question?:

How was school today?

Leave me a comment below on how you changed the dead-end question listed above. I’d love to hear from you!

Mary Kay Kane

all rights reserved copyright 2016


A Christian woman who wants to make a difference in the world.

4 thoughts on “Open-ended Questions

  1. I usually get the one syllable answers when I ask “How was school today?”, a way to make it open-ended could be to ask “Tell me something you would change about your day if you could go do it over again.” From Christine E. Clauser off of my Facebook page!


  2. Oh! I love that. We used to talk about school at the dinner table when our kids were young. One way to rephrase it to an open-ended question would be, “What was something that surprised you at school today?”

    Liked by 1 person

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