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Guided Self-Questioning


This individual questioning activity helps students to learn effectively from a teacher presentation or a text. When engaged in Guided Self-Questioning, students are able to process, clarify, and extend the content of a presentation through structured individual work. The set of generic thought-provoking questions helps ensure that students will engage in deep thinking skills such as analysis and evaluation; the transparency of the process helps students to develop metacognition. Guided Self-Questioning is an individual version of Guided Group Questioning. It can be used as homework, students can use it in individual work following a presentation or reading, or students can use it as a form of note-taking to facilitate learning during a presentation or reading.

Learning Strategies 

  • Predicting
  • Questioning
Interacting with the Text, Self-Questioning

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Metacognition
  • Text-Based Answers


  • Create a handout, sets of index cards, or large display of generic thought-provoking questions. See attached examples of generic thought-provoking questions. • Identify and prepare the lecture, presentation, film, or text that you would like students to process through Guided Self-Questioning.
Activity Steps 
  1. Teacher displays or passes out a set of generic thought-provoking questions to students.

    If this is a new activity for students, you will probably want to model completing these questions based on a familiar text or topic, and lead students in a discussion about how these generic sentence stems can lead to better questions. You may want to design and lead a mini-lesson in which students compare and contrast “memory questions” with “thought questions,” and practice generating and answering each. If students are familiar with this activity, then you can simply distribute the generic question stems.

  2. Teacher gives the lecture or presentation, or students read the target text.

    Encourage students to begin generating questions while listening or reading, as they think of them.

  3. Individually, each student writes down several questions about the content of the presentation or text using the provided generic sentence stems.

    During this time, you can circulate and listen to students’ ideas and what they are noticing. You can also help them to clarify or extend their thinking.

  4. Individually, students work on responding to each of their questions in writing.

    During this time you can circulate and discuss the questions with the students. Probe their thinking and understanding and help to extend their ideas.

  5. Students reflect on their learning in writing or in conversation.

    Students respond to questions such as: · How did the generic questions help you to write thought-provoking questions? · What is meant by a “thought-provoking question”? How is it different from a “memory question”? · How did writing and answering these questions help you to understand and remember the material? · In what other contexts might this strategy be useful to you? · How could you use this strategy to learn during a lecture? During a reading? How might it be useful in studying?

Downloadable Resources 
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