Each day, within different classrooms, teachers ask students to work together, share ideas, and collaborate. When these opportunities are presented to teachers to do the same, a meaningful learning experience occurs for students. This quarter, Laura Geary and I have the privilege of collaborating on a research project in seventh-grade health.
The project stems from a book that we are reading as a staff, “Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions” by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana. A person’s ability to formulate questions is of universal relevance. The method, the Question Formulation Technique, begins after students have gained background knowledge on a topic of importance. Students then generate, improve, and prioritize their OWN questions in regard to that topic. The goal is for students to discover new ideas and understandings, new inventions and better solutions through investigation.
The topic I chose for our 7th grade is substance use and addiction. Using the tools from our staff professional read, students ask questions related to the teacher-generated question focus (QFocus): Substance abuse is caused by a variety of factors that are personal and environmental. Laura and I guide students through the process of generating, improving, and prioritizing their questions. At the end of the Question Formulation Technique each student will have an open-ended question, a question that requires an explanation, to investigate further. Laura is a wealth of knowledge in regard to locating resources that are credible, age-appropriate, and relevant.
This project will be a semester-long project so that students do not feel rushed to just “get an answer”. The focus is the investigative process. The in-depth research they will conduct is meant to have them delve deeper into the issue of substance use and abuse while exploring answers to their own questions, rather than researching a question that I have given them.
I am very much looking forward to not only collaborating with Laura, but also participating in the deeper thinking that our students will be engaged in, which will also allow them to become more independent and take charge of their own learning.