Agree, Build Challenge (ABC) Questioning

Not quite a stand-alone CPD session, this post instead contains a resource that I use frequently in my own teaching as well as sharing with my trainees. The technique here is designed to move question away from the traditional “IRF” (teacher initiates, student responds, teacher gives feedback) model and towards questioning that is more centred on the students listening and responding to each other.   I feel that this encourages much more thinking on their part, does not allow them to switch off so easily and I suppose also encourages them to be more independent.

To facilitate this, I use Agree, Build, Challenge questioning:


In essence, instead of the questions being bounced back to the teacher they get passed  between students who need to say whether they agree, want to build on or challenge the previous statement (as well as supplying a reason).  To improve this further, I also insist that students use the above sentence stems when they respond to each other.

This can be further improved through getting students to take notes during the discussion, which I discuss in the ‘Encouraging Attention and Focus During Questioning’ post elsewhere.

The attached PowerPoint contains the above slide, as well as each individual sentence stem on its own slide.  I used this to create permanent display within my classroom that students could always look to during questioning.  This could also be stuck into the back of their book for reference, or – as one of my maths trainee teachers has done – be combined with ABC cards so that the front of the card has the letter and the back has the sentence stems.  I have seen this used to great effect to combine questioning with AfL.

ABC display




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  1. The CPD Paradox: Addressing educational disadvantage through improving professional development in schools | Teacher Development Trust
  2. Killer Questioning Techniques | Teaching +

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