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The Importance of Asking Questions: And Some Examples for How To Do It

My partner Jessica Cavallaro posted on Linked In last week about the importance of teaching students how to ask questions through the Question Formulation Technique (QFT).  See her post here. Her students went through the QFT process by creating multiple questions on sticky notes.  Then they had to categorize those questions as Google-able (closed-ended) or NONGoogle-able (open-ended) questions.  I wanted to underscore the importance of the technique and give some examples of how it can be adapted to your students and your teaching style.   

A friend, Kelly Paredes, shared this starburst technique with me a few years ago.  

It is a visual form of the QFT. The focus of your lesson or your essential question is provided at the top or within the star. Then, you provide the “W”s for your students to use to build out their questions. The year we did this project, I had my students post their questions to a Padlet board- which was hyperlinked, as shown in the picture. My co-teacher had them list the questions on a separate slide created by their teams.

It is important to note that this visual format can be especially helpful for students in lower grades as well. It can immediately get them engaged in the QFT process and remove any fear about getting something “wrong”. Remember, and remind your students, that all questions are valid. This visual method encourages group communication and collaboration. It is also a transparent way to build upon the ideas of others. The effort to make better questions creates a more robust and interactive learning experience for all learners.

Similar to the QFT process Jessica Cavallaro does, you can dive deeper with your students by having them identify open-ended questions versus those whose answers can be Googled using an alternative method to traditional sticky notes- a Google Jamboard. 

They use colored sticky notes to visually distinguish between the two categories.

Fair warning- your students may resist doing the QFT at first.  It can be tough.  They have to think, not regurgitate answers. That is always a struggle. So, how can you encourage them not to give up after contributing one question? 

  1. Give them a specific time in which they must keep creating questions.  

  2. Give them a goal of how many questions you would like them to create.  

  3. In addition, you can give them options about how they create those questions.  

Asking questions, good questions, challenging questions, and questions that you may not be able to answer yet, is a great start to establishing an Agile framework for your classroom. Are you ready to try it?

I hope you liked this tip for how to take a small step toward your own #agileclassroom. Stay tuned as I continue to share what happens in my #AgileScienceClass.


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