On my way back from NCSS 2018 (the National Social Studies Conference AKA: Social Studies Dork Heaven!), I was thinking about all the great sessions I'd gone to and amazing speakers I'd met. My biggest question was, "What new idea should I try first?"
As I paid toll after toll (thanks Chicago...), I couldn't stop thinking about the question formulation technique from the Right Question Institute. It is a way of getting students to generate, improve, then narrow down a list of questions about a topic to generate a student-guided investigation into something. My units are already pretty set in stone, but I wanted to try it on a smaller scale to generate interest and curiosity (especially so close to the holiday break). I modified the strategy to be one to spark curiosity and gave it a try, and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!
Here are the steps:
1. Explain the directions very carefully.
2. Project the picture and DO NOT give any information about it or answer ANY questions.
3. In groups of 2-4, the students round robin-style whisper and record questions they have about the image on a shared piece of paper for about 2 minutes.
4. Give the groups one minute to identify their "1 burning question" and circle it on their lists.
5. Each group shares out their question and you record the questions on the board or sheet of chart paper to be referred to during the day or unit to see if their questions have been answered by the end of the unit or activity.