Hierarchical Questioning; a way to order questioning
Hierarchical Questioning for Diagnostic and Assessment Purposes 5/1/09
1. Strategic Reading. Guiding Lifelong Literacy 6-12 by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Tanya N. Baker and Julie Dube Hackett
As reading teachers it is our job to bring out the hidden structures and features of text, and to show students how to find them.
Hierarchical questioning can be used to bring out the hidden structures and features of text.
Hillocks questioning theory; from “Towards a Hierchy of Skills in the Comprehension of Literature,” George Hillocks (1980).
-a carefully constructed set of question types based on the idea that “before students can deal with abstractions they must be able to deal with the literal and inferential content of the work”.
The hierarchy examines the relationship among frequently asked questions about the text which must be answered before students can consider questions about the relationship of their personal experience with the text, or about their evaluation of the reading experience.
How You Could Use This
Can be used to assess comprehension levels in reading conferences and assessments.
Why You Should Use This
Helps you see where the understanding has broken down and the student’s Zone of Proximal Development.
"the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers" (Vygotsky, 1978, p86).
What It Looks Like
Level One: Basic stated information- ask several of these/local or limited meaning first.
Used determine if a student can comprehend literal, repeated information.
Who is the main character? Who are the main character’s
Level Two: Key details: These questions refer to something important to the plot and its development. Used to determine if a student comprehends a detail that is stated only once but must be noticed and brought forward .
According to Winnie, why does she need to run away? Why are some gods sent to Tartarus?
Level Three: Stated Relationships: Use to see if the reader can locate the relationships that exist between two pieces of information- usually the relationship is causal and must be directly stated in the text.
Why does Artemis never want to marry? What does Mother Earth think of Zeus?
Level Four: Simple implied relationships: These questions determine whether a reader has recognized a relationship not directly stated in the text- the reader must make an inference based on a few pieces of information close together in the text.
How does Tuck feel about living forever? Why do the Tuck’s love Winnie?
Level Five: Complex implied relationships: Used to determine if a student can infer an answer from a large number of details…students must identify relevant details and decide what patterns exist among them, then infer.
Why does Mr. Anderson think that the family will sell him the land?
Level Six: Author’s generalization: These questions determine what the work implies about the world or human beings- thematic.
What would Natalie Babbitt say is our biggest choice? Give evidence to support your ideas.
Level 7: Structural generalizations: Gets the reader to explain how parts of the work operate together to achieve certain effects ( or structure within).
How does Mildred Taylor use the setting to reinforce the major themes in the novel?
The first three are literal, the last four are inferential.
Or you could think of the hierarchy like this:
• “on the lines” –factual questions about directly stated information;
• “between the lines” – interpretive/inferential questions; and
• “beyond the lines” – evaluation and application questions.
( Jeffrey Wilhelm, Strategic Reading. Guiding Lifelong Literacy 6-12 by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Tanya N. Baker and Julie Dube Hackett)