Sunday, April 11, 2010

Using Questions In the Classroom

I have tried to teach students about asking questions as one of the first steps in the research process. I was never satisfied with the depth of my lessons. I knew I was missing a fundamental step, but I couldn’t put my finger on what was missing.

In the forward of Dr Wiederhold’s book “Cooperative Learning & Higher-Level Thinking: The Q-Matrix”; Dr Kagan says, “To prepare for the future, we must move from teaching of facts to the teaching of thinking. It has become clear that unless we make the transition, we will produce a generation of students ill-prepared to cope with their world.”

After reading Dr Wiederhold’s book and Dr Kagan’s book – “Cooperative Learning”, I think I have found some of the pieces that were missing from my lessons. I have always tried to teach students to ask questions about their learning and about topics. The Q-Matrix gives students a frame to help them develop questions. After using the Q-Matrix in my lessons I discovered more students were asking better questions and comprehending the topic better.

I was able to do an informal assessment on who still did not understand the topic by listening to the questions they developed. I have my intermediate student’s (4th-6th grade) for 1 hour a week. I am developing “baby step” lessons using the Q-Matrix approach.

Dr Kagan has developed some wonderful dice with the Q Matrix words for student’s to use. I quickly realized that many of my students needed more modeling before they took some initial independent steps. I began a search online for some virtual dice or spinners that I could customize. I wanted to be able to put the Q-Matrix words on it and project it on my whiteboard. I wanted a focus the students could see as we generated questions.

I discovered some wonderful sites while searching for these tools. I really encourage you to explore these sites and find treasures of your own. (Triptico has some really great tools. I found my favorite spinner at this site and a really good random name selector (for choosing kids for activities). Crickweb search for word dice. They have developed some wonderful classroom tools. the Birmingham Grid for Learning has some interesting virtual dice and many other great resources.

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