2.1 Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques . To me, 2.1 means that teachers engage students in furthering understanding of material through high quality questions by allowing for adequate response time. I utilize high quality questions during small group discussions that progress from lower-order questions to higher-order questions as a form of differentiated instruction. According to Pressley and McCormick (2007), “First of all, the different heads have different prior knowledge. Moreover, the different heads have attended to different aspects of the information being considered. As the talk in the group proceeds, connections are made” (pg.118). Students were presented guided questions to facilitate discussions and asked to listen to one another and respond by furthering their point or providing a completely new point or respectively disagreeing with a group member. All these options should be supported by textual evidence. Figure 1.1 is the PowerPoint slide presented to students for their small group discussions .
The questions deliberately increase in difficulty as students progress. This is exemplified in the first question when students make connections between the text, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and students’ community and high school. This question allows for students less comfortable with the text to participate by making connections to their community and high school. Students are provided ample response time because students are presented all the questions at the same time. If necessary, students can identify a question that strikes their interest and have ample time to construct their response while listening to classmates. I included high-order questions (#5 and #6) in order to challenge students who need to be challenged. The questions I present to students elicit responses that require explanations rather than “yes” or “no” responses. I often include the word “how” in questions to encourage students to explain their responses. I verbally encourage students to support their responses with textual evidence to strengthen contributions.  The organization of these questions allows students to explore the author’s use of point of view (POV). Another set of high quality questions are presented to students in order for students to analyze plot (Figure 1.2). Organizing these questions into different sets of questions allows students to focus and analyze these two different elements of the text.
 “It is the teacher’s job to share expert reading, writing, and critical thinking with students and incrementally bring students up to a higher cognitive and critical level” (p.164). These questions allow students to analyze POV and character relationships designed to further student understanding through high quality questions and discussions. Students have the opportunity to share ideas and gain different perspectives from classmates. Students are encouraged to disagree, in a respectful way, to create stimulating conversations. Students were also given the opportunity analyze these two elements through verbal discourse, which can increase confidence in both verbal and written discourse. Through these high quality questions, students can practice supporting claims with textual evidence and listen/use academic language in verbal discourse. Key academic language is in bold font to encourage student understanding and use. The next step will be providing students additional response time through pair-shares prior to the small group discussion. In addition, collaborate with colleagues regarding methods that elicit participation from all students in the small group .
Gritter, K. (2010). Insert student here: Why content area constructions of literacy matter for pre-service teachers. Reading Horizons, 50(3), 147-168.
Pressley, M., & McCormick, C. B. (2007). Child and adolescent development for educators. New York: Guilford Press.