“The people of the Confederate States,
in their conventions, determined that
the wrongs which they had suffered and
the evils with which they were menaced
required that they should revoke the
delegation of powers to the Federal Government which they had ratified in their
several conventions. They consequently
passed ordinances resuming all their
rights as sovereign and Independent
States and dissolved their connection
with the other States of the Union.”
Which of the following is the best
summary of the idea Jefferson Davis is
trying to communicate in this excerpt?
A. The problems of the South are all
the North’s fault.
B. The North has been bullying the
South, and the South’s response has
been justifiable and civilized. [correct
C. The Confederate Congress will be
much better able to govern the South
than the Union Congress has been able
This question could help introduce
a class debate or discussion about the
feelings and intentions of the U.S.
South toward the North or the kind
of leadership that Jefferson Davis
provided for the Confederacy. You
could also ask comprehension questions about this excerpt (What are
the wrongs and evils to which Davis
refers? What event in U.S. history
is described in this quotation?).
However, the better way to test
whether students understand the
historical facts leading up to the U.S.
Civil War would be to ask simple,
direct questions. Interacting with
primary sources should help students
go deeper than just identifying facts.
Critiquing the Work
of a Fictional Student
A special version of the story or scenario strategy is to pose a problem and
then describe how one or more fictional students addressed the problem.
You can then ask your students
whether they agree with the fictional
student and why or ask them to decide
which of two or more students is
correct and why.
The advantage of this strategy is
that you can use the thinking you
have observed in your own students
or illustrate instances of common
errors. Sometimes you can even use
the fictional students’ thinking to set
up a problem that requires your real
students to do more thinking! Another
plus of this strategy is that the scenario
will be about a “student like me.”
This question asks students to
determine which, if any, student is
Alicia and her friend Bethany were
learning about the difference between
physical and chemical changes. Alicia
said that making a cake from a recipe
was a physical change because all of
the ingredients—flour, sugar, and so
on—were still in the final cake when
it was baked and you ate it and could
taste them. Bethany said that making
a cake was a chemical change because
the ingredients came together to make
something different and you couldn’t
see the individual ingredients anymore.
Which student do you agree with?
A. Alicia is correct.
B. Bethany is correct. [correct
C. Neither Alicia nor Bethany is
It would be good to follow up a
question like this with a discussion
in which students had to defend their
answer or try to persuade classmates
to accept their point of view. Students
might be interested in doing some
research to find out what specific
chemical changes happen when a cake
Using Questions Effectively
The obvious way to use multiple-choice questions is to put them on a
FIGURE 1. A Visual for Questioning
Maria and Jorge planted rye grass into two pans of soil. Both pans contained
the same amount of the same type of soil. Both pans were watered the same
amount, and they were placed in a window right next to each other. Maria and
Jorge measured their plants each week and constructed the following bar graph.
n with fertilizer
n without fertilizer
See p. 37 for questions that
will extend students’ thinking