I love Blanks questions.  Earlier in my career when I needed to work on wh questions I would start with who and go on from there. However things didn’t always progress in a linear way.  I first learnt about Blanks questions from Marion Blank herself in the 1990’s.  Her two-day workshop opened my eyes and made me look at many aspects of my language therapy in a different way.  Her way of structuring questions has stuck with me since and rarely do I work on questions in the old way.

So what are Blank’s Questions?

Blank’s questions are a list of different types of questions, from easy to more difficult, which help children’s learning by encouraging them to:

  • Observe and discuss objects and events that go on in the world around them more sharply
  • Classify and categorise objects or events (e.g. banana/apple/pear =fruit)
  • Think about and talk about why certain events happened
  • Problem solve difficult situations and possible solutions
  • Make deductions or inferences (i.e. read between the lines in a situation, story etc.)

Blank’s levels enable us to work with children at their own level of understanding rather than ask questions which they will not yet understand.

Level 1
The child applies language to what he sees in the everyday world. The information needed is directly in front of them or nearby. Responses are short or nonverbal (pointing). Questions relate to the immediate environment and require concrete thinking.

Level 2
The information is supplied, but it is not directly apparent.  The child has to select what to attend to.  (e.g. size, colour or function of an object.)  Involve some analysis such as classifying/ grouping objects, describing and understanding object functions.

Level 3
The language does not relate directly to what they see or hear but instead the childe must think and reorder the information given. Certain basic facts must be considered and evaluated before responding.  Require child to use their own knowledge to make basic predictions, assume the role of another, or make generalizations. They are beginning to use higher-order thinking skills.

Level 4
The child has to reason beyond what is seen, heard or said. He needs to draw on past experiences, make parallels examine causes and likely effects as well as justify the decision made.  Involve problem solving, predictions, solutions and explanations. Require own knowledge and thinking about the future and past.

So next time you are working with questions or targeting comprehension.  Think about what questions you are asking and pick questions which work at the child’s level while providing a small challenge.

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