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Creating a Critical Thinker

Using Blank's Questions to develop comprehension and foster critical thinking skills.

Young girl thinking doing a science experiment with computer and beakers in front of a blackboard of math problems
Critical thinking starts early! All thinking is rooted in language.

Children are naturally curious, often asking "why?" about EVERYTHING they encounter. This curiosity, if nurtured properly, can blossom into a profound interest in science and develop their critical thinking skills. One useful approach to harness this curiosity in preschoolers and transform it into a love for science is through the use of Marion Blank's model of questions.

Dr. Marion Blank, a renowned psychologist, developed the Blank's Levels of Questioning framework, which consists of four distinct levels of questioning designed to stimulate a child's oral language development. Each level progressively requires higher degrees of linguistic, cognitive, and social skills, thereby fostering critical thinking. This framework is not only excellent for building linguistic, cognitive, and social skills, but it also fosters a love for scientific inquiry.

Blank's Levels of Questions

Level 1: Direct Labelling and Recall

This first level involves simple and direct questions, such as "What is this?" or "Where is the dog?". These questions help children build a strong base of vocabulary and foster recall ability. When applied to science education, children can be asked to identify or recall the names of animals, plants, and basic scientific concepts such as shapes, colours, or natural phenomena.

Level 2: Descriptive Functioning

At this level, questions require children to describe relationships between objects or events. For example, "How are a cat and dog similar?" or "What happens when we heat water?". These questions encourage children to make connections and understand relationships, a key aspect of scientific thinking.

Level 3: Reorganization

This level involves questions that require children to reorganize known information in new ways. For example, "Can you sort these rocks by size?" or "What would happen if there were no sun?". Such questions encourage children to think beyond their immediate knowledge and hypothesize, a core skill in scientific inquiry.

Level 4: Inferences and Predictions

The final level comprises questions that prompt children to infer or predict based on their knowledge. Questions like "Why do you think the plant is wilting?" or "What do you think will happen if we mix these two liquids?". These questions stimulate a child's analytical and predictive abilities, fostering a scientific mindset.

Dr. Marion Blank's Levels of Questions are a fantastic tool to nurture critical thinking in our kids. It leverages their inherent curiosity, guiding them from simple recall to complex inferences and predictions. It's a practical and engaging approach to teaching that stimulates their comprehension and their minds and, perhaps, inspires the scientists of tomorrow. So, ready to take the plunge? Remember, the goal is not to rush but to enjoy the journey of discovery with your child. What questions will you ask your child today?

At Newcastle Speech Pathology, we offer comprehensive assessments of your child's language abilities. We're here to assist you in understanding their developmental progress and to help you monitor their achievements in language and communication milestones. Connect with us, and let's unlock your child's full communication potential together.


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