Easy as Pie/Tough as Nails Questions

January 1, 2018

Research for this Tool

While teaching, it’s important to use a wide variety of questioning techniques for different purposes. Questioning is not just a good way to find out if your students understand content after you teach, it is important to use effective questioning during instruction. Research on questioning tells us that students who are questioned learn more than students who are not questioned. We also know that oral questions are more effective than written questions. Using higher level cognitive questions produces superior learning gains, especially for secondary students. Questions that teach students to draw inferences, support their opinions, and synthesize information benefit students the most. Using high level cognitive questioning also helps other students, who learn as they hear their peers’ responses and explanations.

Here are some good references on questioning

Brualdi, Amy C. (1998). Classroom questions. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 6(6). Retrieved February 18, 2013 from http://PAREonline.net/getvn.asp?v=6&n=6 .

Cotton, K. (1988). Monitoring Student Learning in the Classroom. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.

How to Use this Tool

Easy as Pie/Tough as Nails Questions

Teachers, like everyone, develop habits of how they do things. If you need to change how you question so that you are using both basic recall or recognize questions as well as higher level questions, try using the Easy as Pie/Tough as Nails cards. With all questioning, make sure you allow enough wait time for students to think about their responses. Here are some ways to use this tool:

• Use a sequence of questions that start with the Easy as Pie questions to check basic comprehension and then move to the higher level cognitive questions to evaluate.

• Randomly select cards that have with either a basic or challenging question. Students will not know what type of question they are getting, so interest and attention should increase.

• At the end of a unit of instruction, to make sure that students get the big ideas, use only the Tough as Nails questions. Let students know ahead of time that they will be asked these more challenging questions.

• Use the Tough as Nails questions when students work with a partner. Ask each student to respond independently, share their responses with each other, and then agree on their best answer.

• Use some teacher created Tough as Nails questions as a starting point and then ask students to create their own questions, either before or after studying a topic. If you do this before the unit, students will be primed to learn new information; if you use it afterwards, they should be able to demonstrate deep understanding of the topic.

Reference for this Tool

Idea 25. Note. From Practical Ideas That Really Work for Secondary Students in Inclusive Classrooms (pp. 139-141), by K. McConnell and G. R. Ryser, 2007, Austin, TX. Reprinted online with permission.


“Easy as Pie/Tough as Nails” Form (.pdf)