6 Brilliant Ways to Stretch the Mind of your Students

In the last post, we talked about the need to provide challenging work to your students. You also know that you should maintain high standards of excellence in your class.

This third strategy in the Teach Like A Champion Series goes a step further from simply getting the correct answer from your students.

This strategy is called STRETCH IT.

Stretch The Minds


With this strategy you reward the correct answers of your students with follow up questions. You don’t simply say, “That’s correct, Good Job!” You probe deeper into their answer. You test for reliability. You ask them to defend their answer and apply their answers in a different setting.

When I read this strategy and reflected on it, I realized it’s a very powerful strategy. I personally will want to apply it more in class. Why?

  • Enhances higher order thinking skills of students
  • Brilliant assessment technique for teachers
  • A reward system for students (differentiated instruction)

Let me discuss each point.

Higher Order Thinking Skills

There is established research that tells us that when we ask quality and challenging questions to students, we ignite their higher order thinking skills, which helps students become more creative and be able to handle more challenging work.

Assessment Technique

Yes, it’s an informal assessment technique, but a good one nonetheless. We remove the possibility of guesswork or just partial mastery on the part of students when we ask them follow up questions after they give the correct answer.

When one can defend their answer correctly, no one can assume  that it was luck or tsamba.

Reward System (Differentiated Instruction)

Your students will have varying levels of ability at any one point. This technique will allow you to practice differentiated instruction.

So you can give varying follow up questions of varying difficulty level to your students. You give simpler questions to your weaker students and more challenging questions to those who excel in your class.

Here are 6 ways you can stretch the mind of your students.

Six Ways to Ask Follow Up Questions

1) Ask How or Why: Ask your students how they arrived at the answer.

2) Ask for another way to answer. (This is perfect for questions that have multiple ways to derive the answer, like Math)

3) Ask for a better word. (This helps students develop specific and technical vocabulary and to be aware of the variety of ways to express something.)

4) Ask for evidence. (This is perfect for social sciences and literature) Have them give proof to solidify their opinion and stand.

5) Ask them to integrate a related skill. This reinforces previously learned skills. It helps them connect the different things they study.

6) Ask them to apply the same skill in a new setting or situation. Find connections in your topic and challenge your students to see the connections. Can your topic be applied in other topics?


So there, 6 powerful ways to challenge your students. Have you been using this strategy already? How often do you give follow up questions to the correct answers of your students?

Share them in the comments below 🙂

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  1. I totally agree with you. It’s not enough that students give the answer. They need to be able to explain why. This will not only help “stretch” their minds but also improve their communication skills. And as a former ESL tutor, I am for better communication skills.

  2. I think this is the same way how other old schools teach their students. I remember one Bollywood movie on how the professor interacts with one of his students, and in the end the professor learned too !

  3. Kalabasa K. Kamote

    May 25, 2012 at 3:05 am

    This is a very timely and useful comment specially that classes will be starting one or two weeks from now.

  4. I also suggest checking out Edward De Bono’s Thinking Course book, it pushes the idea further on how to analyze a situation.

  5. such a nice tip especially for my daughter who will study this june.

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