What to do with the Question Pt. 1

I am a big fan of Project Zero Visible Thinking routines. Even when working with grade 12 students, I find myself relying on a wide variety of routines to explore ideas, dig deeper, and make our thinking visible. As I have used and tried out the different thinking routines I have come to rely on certain routines more than other. Some of my current favorites are Chalk Talk, Sentence-Phrase-Word, and Color-Symbol-Image.

One of the routines that I have used in the past but is not in my “to go to regularly” tool box is the routine called Claim-Support-Question. I like the basic idea of, creating a strong claim and then supplying evidence that supports that point. As a history teacher this is a skill that I work with my students on all the time. The part of the routine that  I struggled to make sense of for me and in turn communicate the application to my students was the Question portion of this routine.

Step three of the routine reads as follows.

3. Ask a question related to your claim

Question: What’s left hanging? What isn’t explained? What new reasons does your claim raise?

I love questions. I think that questions are what do/should drive our learning. Questions are what feed our curiosity. However, with this routine I continued to have a hard time deciding to most effectively use the Question portion of the routine. In my class of 20 students I could get 20 great questions. Do I answer them immediately? Do I let them just linger? Do I save them to address later? Do I have students try to answer each other’s questions? This is where I would get stuck with this routine.

Next week I am going to try a modification to this thinking routine and see if that will help me with doing something with the Question portion of the routine so as to promote student learning rather than the lingering, unanswered question. What I am planning on doing is adding an “Inquire” step to process. Once students have created a question based on their claim, they will have time to explore that question and seek an answer. I will be doing this at the start of a unit and am hoping that this chance to explore questions of their own I will hook the students and tune them into our studies.

I will post part two once it is completed.

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