Student Created Questions

Something that I have latched onto in my time in education (20+ years), is that students struggle with asking questions.  Everyone thinks they can ask a question, until they are put on the spot and required to produce a deeply thinking, open-ended, complex question.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of the questions asked by students are superficial in nature.

This year, I’ve implemented a new bell-ringer at the beginning of class.  I provide an emotionally charged vague statement using the Question Formulation Technique as detailed in Make Just One Change by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana.  The students have to go through the process and create complicated questions about the statement and the audience.  Here is the handout and rubric that I gave them: Link to Handout.  They get a new statement every day.

So far, I’ve seen my students struggle with asking questions.  However, in their defense, it has only been three days.  Today, I assigned a cluster of information with specific learning objectives.  When they asked me what they should do with those statements, I turned it around on them and asked, “Just like the first 5 minutes of class, what questions can you create about these statements.”  The look on most students faces was a simple “oh,” but then they got it and worked away at the objectives.

I am certain this is one of the founding blocks to turning education around and innovating how we teach.  In order for students to drive the learning, they have to know how to drive.

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