Question of the Day- 5 Ways to Use Conversation Starters

functional life skills special education teachers teacher experience transition Apr 23, 2020

I had a morning routine (that didn't include the Question of the Day for students) that I followed with my class and it’s so predictable that my support staff could run it without me there. Here is what it looks like this-

  • “Alexa, start my day” (Yes, we have an Alexa in our classroom. It’s awesome!)

  • “Alexa, what’s on my calendar”

  • Talk and Tell (for basic communication and to model follow-up questions- and I LOVE this resource for a visual)

  • General reminders (like fire drills procedures and the next time the therapy dog will be visiting)

  • Change into work uniform (my young adult students work in the morning)

  • Leave for mini-lessons


By December, I found that I had a few minutes of time between #5 and #6 that I needed to fill because my students had established routines and were quicker completing each task. I had to fill those annoying 4-6 minutes because I couldn’t send the students to mini lessons early as I really wanted them to follow their own device alarms independently (got to get that data), so I had to do something!


I searched around for Questions of the Day on TPT and while there were some options for high school/transition age, no single resource met my needs. So, I started creating!


As a teacher who thrives on consistency and routine, I needed the questions to be both topical and thematic. I started a Google doc and wrote down 20-something different topics that my students and I focus on in our school day (think restaurant etiquette, hygiene, and feelings). I choose to sprinkle in some light questions as well (think fun and This or That), mainly because I would want to start the school year with get-to-know-you type questions where there were no wrong answers for the students who were new to me and my classroom.

How did I come up with the questions you ask? A large percentage of the questions are based on my actual experiences as a transition teacher, therefore you know they will be applicable to your life skills classroom.


I wanted the questions to be a mix of ‘I want to get to know you better’ and ‘let’s talk about how you would and should handle that situation.’ I’ve shortened that long winded description to- personal and situational questions.


Since my morning routine runs Monday through Friday, I needed the questions to be grouped in 5’s- so a topic could last a full week.


Lastly, I wanted some flexibility with how my students and I choose a question to answer. I wanted to have a basket on my desk where a student could pull a question from it each morning, but I also wanted the ability to throw the cards in my community bag and head out to a sit-down restaurant. Thus, I wanted/need an individual question slip version and a 5 questions on 1 card version (think task card size-there is even a mark on the cards for a hole punch- because I like my cards to line up nicely on a ring).


So, I created both!



The questions are the same and offer flexibility with the order of the topics and with how student- involved you want the resource to be.


Since I like my resource to be multi-purpose, I plan to use the Question of the Day in different ways.


The 5 OTHER Ways:

  1. Substitute Activity- If you have a substitute teacher and know that there will be some down time, give them a few questions and have them ask each student. Or, encourage the substitute to ask the questions one-to-one during unstructured (like lunch) time.

  2. Lunchtime Conversation Starters- Post 1 or more of these questions during lunch time or at the end of cooking class when everyone is enjoying their meal. Get the conversation going amongst the students!

  3. Writing Prompts- Use the questions as a writing prompt, especially if they are working on emailing. Students could send the question to a peer to answer or write up their answer and email it to you! (want consumer math reading passages with writing prompts?)

  4. Assessment Questions- Teaching your students about Personal Information, Group Safety, or Asking for Help, then use these 5 questions as a form of assessment (responses can be verbal, written, or multiple choice. *Multiple choice answers not included)

  5. Gather IEP Baseline Data- If you are assessing how a student would handle a situation, use these questions to gather Present Level of Performance data. (Even while writing this resource I triggered my own brain with new goal ideas!)

  6. Bonus- Student Choice and Responsibility- Give your student the choice between a variety of questions (using the individual slips) and then have them announce the question to the class OR put a student in charge of hanging a new question (using the individual slips) each morning!


The final product includes 200 questions because I wanted to have options and enough questions to last me through a school year and ESY, 2 options for printing, and covers 30+ topics relevant to high school and transition age students.


I really hope you find this resource to be just want you need to get to know your students better, offers a catalyst for discussing how to handle situations, and is appropriate for your high school and transition age students!


Click HERE to grab your Question of the Day for students resource!


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