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Critical Thinking Soars with Best Questions

Critical thinking develops and flourishes with the right questions before, during and after reading.
Critical thinking develops and flourishes with the right questions before, during and after reading.

Critical thinking and comprehension can be built even before learning to read. The same way you do that, you can consistently build it for readers. Before reading, after reading and during reading, it is simple, just ask the right questions! The same excellent questions also ignite reading motivation.

The critical thinking tools found here at Reading Solutions,, engage a unique generic form of Bloom’s Taxonomy, . Being generic allows you to keep them in your mind and transfer them to any story, informational reading, or learning (video, lecture, etc.)

The six cognitive levels engaged in the best questions include knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

Knowledge Level questions recall the facts and details about the setting, plot or characters and can include the who, what, where, when, how and where questions.

Comprehension Level questions check for understanding such as why questions, and memory, such as sequence, such as retelling the plot.

Application Level questions require applying the text the the reader’s world and other texts.

Analysis Level questions break down information by categorizing or identifying parts.

Synthesis Level questions require understanding the text and creating something new.

Evaluation Level questions require us to decide on the value of our information, making judgments about the plot, characters, them, or setting.

You will find these levels questioned in The Book Club Games, Story Talk and The Reading Companion,  Each of these learning tools uses the generic form of them to easily internalize and transfer to new reading situations.

Generic questions greatly enhance reading for everyone, including non-readers and English language learners because they can develop critical thinking through “reading” they listen to on an audio or see in a video. In addition, English language learners can easily translate them to their native language to expand critical thinking as they read in their native language while learning English, thus, avoiding the educational gap that often plagues them.

Story elements must also be engaged to fully comprehend. They include the plot, characters, theme and settings of a story. Questions threaded through these elements will ensure the highest standards of comprehension and critical thinking.

Here are some examples of generic questions that use both Bloom’s Taxonomy of cognition and the story elements. Think of a favorite story and try answering them to experience how they bring the story alive and exercise your critical thinking. Answer them with another person and you can see how they bring out different perspectives.

Tell about a part of the story that made you feel sad. Plot is the story element and the Bloom’s levels are evaluation and analysis.

What place in the story did you like? Why? Setting is the story element here and you see evaluation and analysis.

How is someone kind or helpful in the story? Character is the story element, while, comprehension and evaluation are the question’s levels.

What would be another title for this story? Theme is the story element here, and comprehension, analysis and synthesis would be the levels at play.

You will find sixty generic questions similar to these in The Book Club Game:Kids and Adults Edition,  along with other transferable, highly engaging strategies, easily applied before, during and after reading. Each question on a yellow card is labeled for metacognition, that is, thinking about your thinking

The red arrow on the card points to C for character. The question is about a character. Then-COMP, blue arrow, means it comes from the comprehension level, and EVA means it is also an evaluation question.

Here kids and adults learn these terms so they can become metacognitive of their thinking process and understand the codes on the cards. It isn’t necessary to know this to play the game, but if kids, parents, and teachers want to learn Bloom’s Taxonomy levels, The Book Club Game provides an easy, hands on way to do it. The metacognition provided empowers all to write their own questions from the levels, choosing the story elements. All provide engaged awareness and enlightened active reading.