The Question Focus Strategy – Add Inquiry to Your Classroom!

Add Inquiry to Build Engagement

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to attend the National Social Studies Conference (AKA: History Dork Heaven!), and one of the most impactful sessions I attended was done by the Right Question Institute. They presented an inquiry strategy called “Question Focus”, and I absolutely loved it then, and have used it a lot since.

Question Focus is a way of getting students to generate, improve, then narrow down a list of questions about a topic to generate student-guided investigations into something. When I started using these, my units (the content we had to cover) were pretty set in stone, so I modified it to use on a smaller scale to generate interest and curiosity rather than the basis for a full-scale investigation, and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!

PREP

  1. Find an image (it can be a comic, painting or actual photo) that is related to the topic you are covering.
  2. Make it projectable, or some way displayable so everyone in your class can easily see it.

STEPS

  1. Explain the directions very carefully.
  2. Project the picture, and DO NOT give any information 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 1 minute to review their questions, and identify their one “burning question” and circle it on their lists. I always assign one of the group members the job of facilitating this step.
  5. Each group shares out their question and you record the questions on the board or a sheet of chart paper to be referred to throughout the day or unit to see if their questions are answered. I usually cross off the questions as we cover them, and, if we don’t, I provide the answer, or have them find it out on their own at the end of class.

TAKEAWAYS

  1. When students are looking for the answer to something (especially to a question they generated), they tend to listen more closely. It’s like when students are given a question sheet for a movie.
  2. Students get invested and excited about the topic.
  3. It generates curiosity in the topic.

SOME OTHER WAYS TO ADD SOME INQUIRY

I have created some resources that add some inquiry that can either be used as warm ups or whole class activities. If you’re interested, CLICK HERE to check them out.

AND, IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR OTHER WAYS TO GET YOUR STUDENTS MORE ENGAGED IN THEIR LEARNING…

CLICK HERE for a post about a teaching strategy to keep your students engaged during transition times.

 

Add Inquiry to Build Engagement