Is there a more common question than:

What do I do with my early finishers?

I certainly asked it myself.

But, I do believe that I was asking the wrong question. I should have been asking, “**Why are my students finishing so darn fast in the first place?**“

### My Questions Led Nowhere

When I look at my old questions (you can find a whole series about that here), I typically see low-level, one-off questions like:

- What was the story’s main problem?
- Put these events in the correct orderโฆ
- What is the difference between a producer and a consumer?
- 12 ร 17 = ____

**These questions led nowhere.** Once a student answered them, there’s no clear next step. *Of course* students had to ask me what to do. And I just wasn’t prepared!

### Aim Higher

These goals are all about memorizing and explaining something that we already know. **All of my brightest students will give me the same answer!** That’s a *huge* clue that I’m aiming too low. These are all okay opening questions. They can be the start of something. **But, golly, I needed to aim a bit higher, right?** I needed somewhere for students to go once they could memorize a definition!

So, I learned to ** never ask one-off questions**! If I ask one question about “producers vs consumers,” I should ask three or four questions that climb up Bloom’s Taxonomy. I needed to prepare sequences, not one-offs. I wrote much more about sequences here.

For example:

**Story’s Problem** Rather than asking “What was the story’s main problem?” I’d want students to think about other stories that have a similar problem. Did they *also* have a similar solution? Can we group stories based on their problems? (More about this particular sequence here.)

**Order The Events** Instead of stopping at “put the events from the story in the correct order,” I want to get students thinking about “What would have happened if Event Z occurred *before* Event X.” More about this particular sequence here.

Instead of “What is the difference between a producer and a consumer?” I want students to consider what a producer might think *about* a consumer. And vice versa. That’s a task over at Byrdseed.TV.

Instead of dozens of calculation questions, I want my students to *use* their calculations to make a tricky decision. An example of that is here.

### Thinking, Not Just Content

As I create sequences, I’m moving away from, “I want my students to understand something.” I’m moving towards: “I want my students to **think in a particular way** about something.” The particular content I’m teaching (plot, producer vs consumer, multiplication) becomes secondary. The way I’m using Bloom’s Taxonomy takes the focus. I wrote more here about **focusing on thinking rather than content**.