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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Using Plural Forms and Tentative Language to Invite Thinking

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


October 12, 2015

The first three Norms of Collaboration in Adaptive Schools are parallel to three critical tools of a Cognitive Coach – pausing, paraphrasing, and posing questions. During September, we revisited some thinking about pausing and paraphrasing. This month we will consider the skill of posing questions for inquiry and mediating thinking.

Read the following questions and consider the effect on your thinking:

What do you think you should do?

What strategy will you choose for this student?

What is the reason your committee wants to recommend that?

Now contrast how the following affect your thinking:

What might be some things you are thinking about doing?

What are some possible strategies you are considering for this student?

What might be some of the reasons your committee is considering those recommendations?

The first set of questions lacks tentative language and plurals. By adding words like, “might, possible, some,” and plurals, “things, strategies, reasons,” the questions open greater choice and safety.

This week, review your learnings regarding plural forms and tentative language. Work consciously to embed them in your questions and notice the results in the thinking of individuals and groups you are supporting.

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