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Blank Levels of questioning

Blank Levels

Blank Levels is a model developed by Marion Blank that helps to support and further develop a child’s understanding of abstract language and verbal reasoning. It gives us a tool to develop children’s language in a structured way. 

Blank levels help us recognise the type of questions the child understands which supports us in using a language with the child they understand and can relate to.  

There are four levels of questioning:  



Retelling/ Narrative  


The levels encourage development of general language and vocabulary as well as skills in comprehension, reasoning, inferencing, predicting and problem solving. 

Level 1 – Naming 

Focus is on objects in the pupil's immediate environment and requires concrete thinking. 

For example:  

Find one like this (matching objects) 

What can you hear? 

What can you touch? 

What is this? (Pointing to object) 

Who is this? (Pointing to person) 

What is ...... doing? 

Level 2 – Describing 

Focus is on analysis such as grouping objects, describing and understanding object functions. 

For example: 

Find something that can ......... (cut) 

What is happening in this picture? 

Where is the ........? (requires a location response e.g under the table, not just pointing) 

Find something that is ...... (red) and ........ (spikey) 

How are these different? 

Which one is........... (fruit)? 

Level 3 – Retelling 

This level requires children to use their own knowledge to make basic predictions, assume the role of another, or make generalisations. 

For example: 

What will happen next? 

How do you think he feels? 

How do I make ..... (a sandwich)? 

How are these the same? 

What is a .........? (definitions) 

Level 4 – Justifying, problem solving and answering why? 

This level requires children to use their own knowledge, own experience and ability to think about the past and future. The child has to problem solve, make predictions, give solutions and explanations. 

For example: 

What will happen if .....? 

What should we do now? 

What could .......... do/use? 

How can we tell .......? 

What can’t we .....? 

How can you tell she is happy? 

Why is it called.....? 

Strategies to support and practice Blank Levels: 

•   Aim your level of questioning appropriately to support the child’s understanding. 

•   Re-adjust your use of questions by choosing the Blank Level below the child’s level if the child is not able to answer your question. 

•   Use everyday situations to ask Blank Level questions. 

•   Allow sufficient time for the pupil to think through and provide an answer. 

•   Use repetition after a pause. 

•   Use visual supports to aid understanding such as pictures and diagrams. 

In Ysgol Maes Hyfryd, all pupils are assessed through a variety of blank level assessments. Each pupil has a level and is supported through the use of various activities to progress to the next level.  

Each Hwb class has a selection of resources suitable for your child’s class and you should have been made aware of the current level your child is at and what they are working toward.  

Please feel free to contact Katie Fairclough or Vicki Carding via Class Dojo for any further support with Blank levels or any questions or concerns about communication. 

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Ysgol Maes Hyfryd Specialist High School, Fifth Avenue, Flint, Flintshire CH6 5QL

Tel: 01352 792720 / 01352 792727 | Email: [email protected]