Before Before After After – a framework of differentiated questioning

I am currently reading The Secret of Literacy by David Didau and was very taken by his Before Before After After technique of questioning to allow students to access higher order thinking. This looks especially useful when tackling a source and thinking beyond the surface features of a source, question or a specific issue.

The structure of questioning works as follows –

Before Before – focuses upon what happened a long time before the source was produced.
Before – focuses upon what happened just before the source was produced.
Now – looks at what is happening in the source ‘now’.
After – asks students to speculate what happened next in the source.
After After – asks students to consider what might happen long after the source was produced in relation to the event it is looking at.

This framework of questioning taps into many historical and thinking skills. Quite clear, what is happening now is the easiest question as this is essential a comprehension question that asks students to describe the contents of the source. However, the other questions allow for students to consider long and short term causes and consequences, application of knowledge as well as giving students to the opportunity to apply their knowledge in an increasingly complex manner. Using this framework to question sources, I feel, encourages students to look more deeply into the sources beyond the surface features and helping them to think about long and short term causes while applying the nature, content and purpose of a source and placing the source in a wider context. Also this framework allows you to have a set of questions that are differentiated.

A worked example – a painting of the trial of Charles I


Potential responses while using this framework could be –

Before Before – Charles becomes King in 1625, Parliament and Charles fall out, English Civil War begins, Charles defeated on battlefield.
Before – Parliament unsure how to deal with Charles, Parliament with army backing put Charles on trial.
Now – Charles now on trial.
After – Charles found guilty, Charles is executed,
After After – Interregnum, Cromwell Head of State, Monarchy restored in 1660.

Looking forward to trying this framework of questioning out. Looks like a winner.