Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Questions, Questions, Questions

I am in the middle of reading Jim Burke's new book What's the Big Idea?: Question-Driven Units to Motivate Reading, Writing, and Thinking. I've decided that I need to complete multiple posts about this book rather than just one. I don't want to read and review this text; I want to use it. Also, I'm taking my time in reading this one. I'm finding that there is no reason or way to rush through this book. The writing is too thoughtful, too right-on. Every chapter is filled with my notes, connections to units I teach, and it's full of huge exclamations. I totally recommend reading this book (even though I haven't finished it)!

Throughout this text, Burke talks about the importance of asking questions. He gives tons of ways to integrate question-driven units and lesson into the classroom, but it's really the philosophy of developing a questioning classroom that intrigues me. I have known for a long time that student choice helps to promote ownership and excitement in the learning process. It is now clear to me that students need to have some control over the development of the questions that will guide the selection of material--not just the materials themselves.

I recently spotted a cool spot on the New York Times website. It's called "6 Q's About the News". Here, students are encouraged to look at a daily photograph, read the corresponding article or information that goes with it, and answer six basic questions: who, what, when, where, why, how. I could see this becoming a regular feature in my classroom. I know that one of my goals in teaching students is for them to be curious and ask questions about the world around them and this idea would help to accomplish this goal. The photo and the article could be about anything. And, choosing the photo would allow students to have their own take on the way that they answer the six basic questions.

I will post more about this amazing book and the resources I'm finding that connect with it. I also hope to implement some of Burke's ideas into my teaching soon, so stay tuned!

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