Using Marzano Question Stems in a High School Classroom

17 May

*******25 September 2012:  If you use these questions, please let me know how they work for you.  Also, if you reblog, tweet, pin on Pinterest, etc., PLEASE give me the credit I deserve.  I’m not one for reinventing the wheel, but I worked extremely hard on this and am sharing it with my fellow teachers out of the kindness of my heart.


Teachers are all too familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy – levels of questioning that start off with recalling information and work their way up to the highest levels of thinking with analyzing and creating.  When we create assignments for our students, we use these stems to make sure that we have varying levels of difficulty and that our students are being asked to work at their highest level of ability.

For years, I have wanted to find some way to better incorporate these questions into my classroom than just a handout for the kids to do either individually or in small groups.  And I think I’ve found my answer.

Robert Marzano is another name that teachers know.  He took Bloom’s Taxonomy and altered it a little bit, rearranging some categories and even adding new ones.  I decided to take these question stem and create generic questions that address all the literary elements as well as purpose and style.  These questions can be used when reading anything, and with a little quick thinking, the questions can be altered easily enough to be used with a specific piece of literature.

I created ten questions for each stem for a total of 70 questions that all address different levels of thinking.  I printed each level on its own color of paper so that I can keep track of which questions the students are answering and how difficult (or easy) they are for each student.  Welcome to my Question Can.

I made tags for each level of thinking in the same color as the questions to decorate the can.  This way I can keep track of them as well.  I am getting old, and might forget the categories. 😉

Here are the questions that I created using Marzano’s stems.  Feel free to print these out or change them up to work for you in your classroom.  I plan on throwing in some specific questions for each piece of literature that we read, but this is a great place to start.  Here’s how I imagine using these stems – each student gets to pick a question and answer it.  Then we can do a Turn and Talk where partners discuss their questions and answers.  Then we can bring it back to a whole class discussion where in a Round Robin, each student shares their question and answer.  Other students can take notes on the question and their own thoughts to be shared as well.








Let me know what you think of this idea and how you would use the Question Can in your own classroom!  Happy teaching!

48 Responses to “Using Marzano Question Stems in a High School Classroom”

  1. Jen Wren May 17, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    OMG look how nice that is!!!! Beautiful! Almost makes me want to teach again!

    • stacy1220 May 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

      Hahahaha!!!! I’m kind of excited to see how this works. I think it’s going to be a hit. My kids love my crazy activities!

  2. alundeberg May 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    You ARE fabulous! This is a great idea– yet another idea I will steal and print. School ends next week, so I’ll let you know how it goes in the fall. Thanks for sharing!

    • rryans May 17, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

      Looks and sounds great! Hope to use it in the fall 🙂

      • stacy1220 May 18, 2012 at 6:40 am #

        I’ve been in the teaching game for a while now (almost ten years). I love that I can share these ideas with you all – and that you actually like them! I’ll keep them coming! And yes… please tell me how it goes!!!!

  3. Lynsey July 2, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    If only I had seen this before spending hours and hours making up something similar for my class using blooms taxonomy!

  4. Steph July 14, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Great idea, and thank you so much for sharing! How about putting the class into groups and having each group pick a question of each color from the can? These will be so useful next year 🙂

    • stacy1220 July 15, 2012 at 11:43 am #

      That’s a great idea! So many possibilities!!!

  5. Abby Martin August 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    This idea is fantastic! I’d love to have a Question Can in my classroom! I teach 10th grade English.

    • stacy1220 August 14, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      I’m going back to 10th grade this year! It’s been a while, but I’m kind of excited to teach To Kill A Mockingbird again! The can doesn’t take much time to make, so if you do use it, please let me know how it goes! Good luck this year!

  6. Theresa October 4, 2012 at 2:45 am #

    I teach middle school struggling readers. Because their skill levels are low it can be very (VERY) difficult to find age-appropriate material they can feel successful completing. These are wonderful. I just need to make sure we discuss “protagonist” and “antagonist” before we use them. =)

  7. Estella October 4, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    In the past I have allowed my middle school students to create their own bookmark using about 4 Marzano Categories Question Stems. Students picked out a pattern (which can be purchased from craft store), glued the pattenr to the question stem bookmark, I lamanted them, we punched a hole in them, &added yarn for a string.

  8. Karen Gonzalez October 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Fantastic! Thanks for sharing!!!

  9. mpaloucek October 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Reblogged this on Pedablogical Thoughts and commented:
    A great idea on how to change up regular discussions about literary texts or other topics. It also incorporates the enabling strategies that the Langer Article talked about as a key to a successful classroom. This could be used in a “Write, Pair, Share” method or as the author describes with the “Turn and Talk” method.

  10. Gina Hammett October 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    What a fabulous (and generous) resource! Thanks for sharing! P.S. I linked from Pinterest.

  11. Evelyn H November 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    I love it! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Jenyth November 6, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    My sophomores are creating board games and developing content questions for the game cards. Your work has saved us a lot of time as we can apply the questions stems to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and our Medieval Research unit!

    • Tina Ladner February 12, 2013 at 4:56 am #

      Great idea!

    • Gail Mariage September 9, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

      Hi Jenyth, I’m getting ready to do a long term for Sophomore English and they’re reading Raising in the Sun. Sounds like a fabulous idea.

  13. Evie December 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    Very good activity to use and reuse in the classroom. Thank you for sharing!

  14. Robyn Higgins January 27, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    Integrating – rewording to clarify
    How could the author’s style be adapted to make this story into a poem, a song or a movie?

  15. Tina Ladner February 12, 2013 at 4:55 am #

    Thanks so much for sharing! This activity is exactly what I needed! I am going to copy each page on a different color and laminate. There are so many uses for these! I love your “can” idea! I am thinking of putting my students in six groups and giving each group a different color card. Each student in the group would get two, maybe three questions about which to lead a discussion. Another idea is to cut the cards apart, punch a hole in the corner, and secure with a ring. Then give a set to every group. This would ensure that all groups discussed each level of Bloom’s questioning.

  16. tokeepapromise March 4, 2013 at 2:20 am #

    Thank you so much for this creative idea! I am currently in my final year of studying to be an educator but I’m already an assistant teacher at a school. I can definitely see this working very well in my class next year!

  17. Erica Smith June 30, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    These are so helpfull! A lot of my third and fourth graders have a hard time answering the higher level questions, but this will definitely get them thinking at those levels on a regular basis.

  18. Rob July 4, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    Thanks for making these available! Coming up with specifically tailored, higher-level questions can be tricky. This helps a lot!

  19. Deb July 13, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    Excellent! These questions are well-aligned to the Common Core and help kids become more active readers.

  20. Sam July 16, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

    AWESOME!! Thank you for a great idea!

  21. Terri July 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Thank you for sharing! Great idea!

  22. Lori Hamby July 29, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    I love these! I always wanted a way to put my whole class in a large circle and have a literature discussion (perhaps a mini-review) or assessment on what my students are
    getting or not getting. I am thinking the can gets passed around with each student drawing from it until all questions are attempted. I am also thinking of four-person discussion groups. Each group is given a can with their topic. They hold a brief discussion and then present their findings to the class. Thanks for allowing me to “steal”!!

  23. Amanda July 31, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    Love this!!!!! You are awesome! I cant wait to share with my team!

  24. Stacy August 16, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    Love this idea! I am thinking of doing this for my ancient history class. Questions I have-
    Do you have kids pick out of any can or tell them which ones to pick from?
    What size cans do you use and where did you get them?
    I am thinking I would have to change each question to each unit of study.

    • stacy1220 August 16, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

      You get to decided whether the kids pick their own questions or if you assign certain ones. As for the can, I think I used a peanut can. Anything would work, even a paper bag. Be creative. The questions are generic and can be used for anything; obviously you can make the questions suit your needs. These are meant for stories, so there isn’t much that needs to be changed for that.

  25. Sharon November 8, 2013 at 2:55 am #

    This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing. I just wanted to appreciate your multi-use question sheets too… really nice to have flexible material on hand.

  26. What will your verse? January 5, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    Reblogged this on What will your verse be? and commented:
    Love her ideas! Lucky I found this blog. I’ve already started using some of her great ideas!

  27. Brandi Barnett May 6, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I just started substituting (while I contemplate a career change into education) and was planning on creating some question stems to go with some short stories as part of my “Schoolbox”. Today was my first day and I was caught completely off-guard. I pulled out my Ed Psych textbook and a copy of The True Story of Three Little Pigs (It was my personal school backpack and I have a pre-schooler…don’t judge me..LOL) which I then read aloud to a class of sophmores and proceeded to discuss POV’s, descriptive phrases, and used some of the examples of question stems from my textbook. After that we talked about investigative techniques, supporting evidence and similar things. Overall I think it went well (they said it was “awesome”, but they could’ve just been trying to make me feel better!) and I kept them occupied for the 90 min block, but boy I wish I’d had these handy! So guess what I’m doing now for tomorrow? Printinggggg……

  28. Brian Dietzler June 30, 2014 at 3:54 pm #


  29. Meagan July 25, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    This is wonderful! I am going in to my first year teaching in just a couple weeks, and can’t wait to try this out with my sophomores! Thanks for the shared knowledge and hard work!

  30. Christine October 5, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    In our high school, we still have AR in our reading courses. I was looking for “Marzano” questions to use for their daily AR log entries. These are PERFECT! Thank you so much.

  31. Callie October 12, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    Thanks, I’ve just printed these off. They look great.

  32. Cans June 26, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    Awesome! I love integrating Bloom’s Taxonomy in my friendly environment class…

  33. Suz August 4, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    Brilliant- just changed to English spellings- thank you so much for sharing 😉

  34. tmcsaunders October 1, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    I love these, and with your permission, would like to share them from my blog. You’ve even inspired me to look at doing some for non-fiction!
    And thank you for sharing for free; big smiles for that! I get so sick of getting excited about something and then seeing TPT as the website!
    Thanks again!

  35. tmcsaunders October 1, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

    Theses are great, and have me considering modifying them for poetry and non-fiction!
    And thank you for sharing. I get so tired of getting excited about something and then seeing TPT tagged on it!
    Thanks again!

  36. Puritano October 30, 2015 at 3:17 am #

    Just wanted to say thanks a million for this; plan to use soon.

  37. Glenda L Reilly February 17, 2018 at 6:21 pm #

    I am not sure how I stumbled on to this, but I think it is pretty great. Thank you for being generous with your talent and sharing. Excuse me now while I go browse the rest of your site…

  38. Sylvia H August 12, 2018 at 2:16 am #

    Your question stems are priceless. I am blown away. This is great for the students and me. I don’t have to pull so many teeth. Thanks so much!

  39. Dee August 16, 2018 at 6:37 pm #

    This looks fantastic–I can’t wait to use it with my kiddos! Thank you so much for making this available to us!


  1. Cynthia Horsfall - August 9, 2017

    […]… A blog from a high school educator who shared the seventy questions she has developed that related to all the literary elements. […]

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