Think about this: How many questions do you ask a day?
When I thought about this question, I realized many of the questions I ask are within conversation, and have a clear answer.
What about this: How many effective questions do you ask a day that push yourself, and other’s brains to a point of exploration?
This brought me to a whole new realization: I don’t. I keep my ideas to myself, and I do not push or challenge myself to try to find an answer.
Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question (2014), brought me to the realization that I am not challenging myself with questions. As I was reading, I realized how often I think about questioning while I teach, but how little I consider questioning for myself. I kept asking myself, “Am I going north?” “Am I pushing myself to the highest degree?”
I continued to question myself, and then my teaching practices: How can I foster my students to “question effectively?”
Finally, my biggest question of all: Why am I not asking questions? For this, I did have an answer: Technology. I ask Google a question, I get an answer.
With all of the changes throughout our society, questioning is means of survival. “A journey of inquiry is bound to lead you into the unknown (as it should), but if you have a sense of the kinds of questions to ask at various stages along the way, you’ve at least got some road markers,“ (Berger, 2014). This statement made my mind explode in many directions. I made a connection with this statement about road markers, and Berger’s Why/What if/How progression of questioning. Additionally, I considered some of the practices I currently have in place, but will continue to adapt.
Questioning allows us to adapt, learn, and explore new situations with a refreshing outlook. Ultimately, it brings us back to the curious and creative aspects of our childhood.
What about technology? Picasso makes a valid argument:
“Computers are useless – they only give you answers.”
Even I agree that computers give us answers, but we need to face the facts. Technology (high and low tech) is here, it is a constantly changing, and it is an integral part of our everyday lives.
“There’s never been a better time to be a questioner – because it is so much easier now to begin a journey of inquiry, with so many places you can turn to for information,” (Berger, 2014). Therefore, it is necessary that educators understand the relationship between technology and effective questioning.
Rather than focusing on what new and improved tech-tools are available, “the focus should be on what it is we want our students to learn and how that learning is to happen,” (Mishra & The Deep-Play Research Group, 2012).
The tech-tool does not determine the content at hand. Instead it is the opposite. “To use tools productively, teachers must understand the different ways that technology can represent content,” and recognize how this tool best supports his/her teacher practices (Mishra & The Deep-Play Research Group, 2012).
The social studies curriculum I use, teaches the regions of the United States, and the basic social sciences within each region. When I thought about what I wanted my students to get out of the curriculum, I realized the how (textbook/workbook) aspect of learning was very fact based. It limited students from exploring beyond the text, and essentially asking effective questions.
I turned to technology to support the content, and allow for exploration. Using Google-Maps, my students went on “tours” throughout the US. They were able to explore their own questions, “instead of telling them what matter[ed], they decide[d] what matter[ed],” and took ownership in their own learning (Berger, 2014).
The level of curiosity, engagement, and questioning throughout the year continued to grow as we “toured” different regions of the US. Students were challenging themselves, and one another with the use of Google-Maps and the content they were learning.
Ultimately, everyone (not just teachers) need to use technology as a tool, rather than a crutch.
“We’ll all have to be adept to continually changing tracks as we move forward,” (Berger, 2014). I know that I will make changes to the social studies curriculum again this coming school year, and find better ways to help my students ask effective questions with the help of Google-Maps.
We must push ourselves to question everything, and keep going north!
Berger, W. (2014). A More Beautiful Question. New York: Bloomsbury.
Mishra, P., & The Deep-Play Research Group (2012). Rethinking technology and creativity in the 21st century: Crayons are the future. TechTrends, 56(5), 13-16. Retrieved from: http://punya.educ.msu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Mishra-crayons-techtrends1.pdf
*Google Map images – Bridget Bennett