Questions, Blocks & Shadows…


What a chain of events.  Last summer I created Pinterest boards to tag some amazing classroom ideas I kept running across.

This post, Blocks and Shadows from Best Case Scenario intriqued me. blocksandshadow

Several weeks ago, I was reading some posts by@jgough at Experiments in Learning by Doing where she suggested the book Make Just One Change, Rothstein & Santana (2011) .  The premise is to help student ask their own questions.  This book was deinitely on my summer reading list.

A few days ago, I mentioned the same book to @druinok on Twitter, which leads one of the book’s authors to my blog.  He shares a link to The Right Question.  Last night, I take some time to check it out and read an article Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions which briefly outlines 6 steps of the QFT -Question Formulation Technique.

So where is this going?  After working yesterday to complete a narrative for an application I’m submitting this week, my mind is in a mode where it won’t shut down.  I woke at 5 this morning, thinking about blocks, shadows, QFT.

Here are my thoughts…

1. I share pictures from our opening discussion of our Right Triangle Similarity unit, which include snapshots from The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Frankfort, Kentucky

vietnamsundial From the memorial website: The design concept is in the form of a large sundial. The stainless steel gnomon casts its shadow upon a granite plaza. There are 1,103 names of Kentuckians on the memorial, including 23 missing in action. Each name is engraved into the plaza, and placed so that the tip of the shadow touches his name on the anniversary of his death, thus giving each fallen veteran a personal Memorial Day.

The location of each name is fixed mathematically by the date of casualty, the geographic location of the memorial, the height of the gnomon and the physics of solar movement. The stones were then designed and cut to avoid dividing any individual name.

and other shadow snapshots of random objects outside my classroom.

2013-04-23 12.01.49 2013-04-23 11.55.582013-04-23 12.08.55

I am hoping this will be enough for my Q-focus, but since I have not read the book, I feel like there’s more to it.  Improvements to the lesson next time…

Next, set out blocks, flashlights, making available measuring tools such as grid paper, rulers, protractors, etc.

2. Students get time to play, explore and prodcuce questions!

Prior to beginning 2, I will explain certain steps and “rules” from the QFT model outlined here.

The 4 rules as discussed in the article: ask as many questions as you can; do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer any of the questions; write down every question exactly as it was stated; and change any statements into questions.

Here is where I need some help, I feel like I should impose a time limit to keep students focused and on task, but what is reasonable?  Even with an imposed time limit, I am one who will bend if I see my students are on task and into the mathematical discussion.  My initial thoughts are 10-20 minutes to explore and generate their questions before moving to the next step.

3.  Students improve their questions, noting difference between closed/open, etc.
4. Student prioritize questions, submit their focus to the teacher.
5. Discuss next steps.
6.  When all is said and done…reflection on their learning.

Please offer suggestions or even how you’ve used a similar activity in your classroom.  I am VERY interested in offering more lessons like this – where students guide their own learning.

3 responses »

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