Our next step is to generate our essential questions. In order to facilitate students asking their own questions, we utilized the Question Formulation Technique. The work of The Right Question Institute website along with the book, Make Just One Change by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana, has greatly influenced my practice.
Join me as I share our QFT session.
Our QFT session had 10 different groups varying from 2 to 5 students. The purpose of the inquiry is to learn about solutions to problems young people are facing today. In order to do that, students need to narrow down their focus. The QFT questioning process with help students determine essential questions to research and answer. The social concerns of my sixth graders are: immigration, face to face bullying, cyberbullying, making wrong choices, depression, self-harm, anxiety, drugs and alcohol, disabilities, and homelessness.
During the session, we used this slide deck to guide us. We engaged in all components of the QFT process which include:
1. A Question Focus (Q-Focus)
2. The Rules for Producing Questions
3. Producing Questions
4. Categorizing Questions
5. Prioritizing Questions
6. Next Steps
This is the second time my class worked through the process. Our school has a very tight team. In fifth grade, students used the QFT process so it isn’t a new procedure. Honoring each step of the process is very important. It seems deceptively simple but the thinking and student empowerment is huge. Because students are doing the heavy lifting, they take ownership of their questions and learning. The timers embedded in the slide deck keep students on task and focused.
Take a look at some of the questions below. And this video of students collaborating.
Take a look at some student reflections.
- Student 1: "I learned that when doing a QFT, you can’t really worry about grammar at that point. You have to hurry up and write down your questions in the time you are given. I will use the questions we chose for further research in my anxiety inquiry, and to have more understanding with it. I can improve as a learner by expanding and tweaking my questions to make them better, and by taking my thinking into a deeper level. I also learned that making up questions in a limited time is not really easy, and you have to be a fast thinker. In a QFT, you aren’t really learning about your topic, but about your group and how good it collaborates. In my group, we needed a little bit more collaboration with the new member. We, of course had to help him a little with his understanding. Hopefully he improves with his collaboration and thinking. It was a little awkward considering he was uncomfortable with us since he barely knew us. The QFT really did help us with our thinking, and helped us get a better understanding on the questions we want to research on. All in all, the QFT helped us get a little more comfortable, and also gave us a good start because we thought of many good questions we would like to do further research on."
- Student 2: "During our QFT time there was so much learning and engaging going on. I learned a lot about my group and the questions they had. AH (a group member) seemed to be really interested on the effect of making wrong choices. On the other hand ADH (another group member) was mainly interested on the origins and the consequences. We all asked many questions. Many were open. I feel that’s good because we could engage more in the topic. I also learned that we can all work as a well mannered team. We all took turns and gave the questions we felt were important. As a group we all felt we needed a voice. ADH was making sure that everyone got to share their perspective on the questions and what was more important. I feel that I can use the questions in many ways. I feel that it is best for me to use more or less the open questions to help me engage more in the subject. I will use the questions as a way to research and go deeper into the awareness in a scholarly way. The questions will improve my knowledge on the subject and can help throughout the process. There are many ways I can improve as a learner. I feel that maybe asking different questions such as deeper questions can improve the way I research. I like to reach for a scholarly act so the deeper question can engage me more. It will help my thoughts on the awareness. I should start thinking outside of the box. It’ll help my me and my groups ideas. After all this QFT session was really good and will help me learn new things, think of ways to use my questions, and help me try to improve my learning."
- Student 3: "My QFT topic was Drug and Alcohol Abuse. My reflection of this topic helped me learn that there are more to drugs and alcohol than them just being bad. Something else that I learned during this session is that drugs and alcohol have many more questions to them then you think. We usually thought that drugs and alcohol were just things that we shouldn’t do, after what seemed about six minutes we realized there was still more questions about drugs and alcohol that us four were still wondering. Another thing that I can reflect on is that our group were not exactly comfortable with our topic, but mostly because we didn’t know how to explain this topic to others and how to put all the things together as a group. Something that I will do with my groups and my own questions are by trying to explain to others and more importantly why drugs and alcohol are things that people shouldn’t even try not even one time in life because after who knows if you’ll end up getting addicted to either of them. Another way that I can use these questions is by researching each different facts about them and how to help me understand these questions on my own and again after explain it to others to help them understand as well. A way I can improve as a learner is by giving more questions in my group and by helping other people find another question to give either me or themselves another thought about theirs or another about mine. I can also improve myself as a learner by thinking a little deeper in my questions. Something else that I think that I really can improve on as a learner is that I think I can be more open to others and yo my own ideas and to be able to share my ideas."
We culminated the session by going on a gallery walk. Students were able to read each groups questions and discuss with their peers along the way.
Our next steps are to focus on the three priority questions from each group. Students will be learning about their self-selected topic with a particular focus on solutions to their social concern.
The QFT process is a powerful questioning technique that can be used at all grade levels. Here is a GFT slide deck guide that you can modify to meet your particular needs. Feel free to insert your Q-focus into the slide deck.
If you’re already using QFT or are just starting your journey, I’d love to see what you’re doing. If you have questions, feel free to DM me.
#MuchLove . . . Marilyn ❤