Thoughts, Questions, Epiphanies (TQE)

The TQE (Thoughts, Questions, Epiphanies) is a discussion protocol that can be used as a way to engage students to participate in deep conversations about a text (written, audio, or visual). The teacher assigns a text or a section of a text as homework. Students discuss the text in small groups during the following class period. They use question stems that are posted in the classroom to ensure that their discussions go beyond the factual information in the text. As they discuss, one person in the group notes the thoughts expressed by the group members, the questions that are still lingering in their minds, and any epiphanies that had when reading. Each group records their top two TQEs on the board. The teacher uses the students’ ideas to moderate a whole-class discussion. Their grade (if one is given) is dependent on their participation.


  1. Students read a text or a section of a text at home.

  2. The following day, the teacher assigns small discussions groups. These discussed are guided by lower level questions and higher order inquiries provided by the teacher and posted in the classroom.

  3. Each group chooses the top 2 TQEs and writes them on the board.

  4. The teacher then moderates a whole-class discussion of the reading, using the TQEs that have been written on the board. This takes about 40 minutes of class time.

Helpful Tips

  1. For maximum student engagement, the teacher should consider pausing the discussion every 20-30 minutes to give students time to reflect and/or time to consider additional input. Students might reflect by jotting notes in a graphic organizer, writing questions of interest, etc. Additional input could be provided by giving access to an image, a news headline, a quote from a text, or by giving students time to consult texts/resources they have previously encountered.

  2. This activity works best for classes of students at or above the Intermediate level of proficiency.

  3. Provide both lower-level and higher-level questions stems for the small group discussions and post them in the classroom.


  1. Provide texts that are chunked and annotated for students who are at different levels of proficiency.

  2. Provide texts at the appropriate level for the proficiency level of the students--the teacher may select to assign different texts to different groups.


  1. Question stems (posted in large print in the classroom/on a PPT slide)

  2. (optional) small personal white boards for each group to use