"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Friday, November 8, 2013

Developing the Art of Questioning

My professional and student goal revolves around inquiry, specifically the art of questioning.  Throughout the year, my students and I will be exploring, experimenting and evaluating different questioning strategies and techniques.

Followers of this blog know that we are excitedly awaiting a visit from Anne Ursu, the author of Breadcrumbs and The Real Boy.  

You can read about last week's experience reading form Breadcrumbs and listening to an interview with Anne Ursu on NPR.
This week, with a focus on developing the art of questioning, the students worked in groups to brainstorm questions for Anne.  They then tried to answer these questions by exploring information available on Teachingbooks.net, where there is a link to Anne's personal Webpage along with approximately five written interviews.  

Here are the directions for the lesson.

Here is the Google form they filled out.

I love that we were virtually paperless (after a slight glitch on my part)!

I am feeling good about this lesson.

I was able to talk with the students about the art of questioning. We talked about questions with breadth and depth.  We talked about drawing upon personal writing experiences for inspiration - for instance if a student was feeling that he or she had trouble just beginning the writing process, he or she might ask Anne about where she begins, "Does she diagram or web her story?", "Does she outline her story?", "Does she just begin writing?" For questions about characters, "Do you map out all your characters qualities before you write your story or do your characters grow because of something they encounter in a story?"

I was able to remind students about TeachingBooks.net and hopefully inspire them to use this resource both in their classroom and at home.  I cannot speak highly enough about the power of watching the author and illustrator interviews on TeachingBooks.net. My hope was that the students would be able to answer their "easier" questions from the resources on TeachingBooks.net, but most did not have the time to delve that deeply into the interviews.  This would have been better in two lessons. Per usual, I asked the students to do too much in too little time (broken record about 30 minute classes, I know).  

The last thing I asked the students to do was share any additional questions that arose from the TeachingBooks.net exploration.  My hope was that more questions would arise form the reading or that deeper questions would be asked.  Only a few students got to this step.

The students recorded this answer to a question of theirs:

Despite my not giving the students enough time, I am feeling good about this lesson. The students:

**worked collaboratively to determine roles in the group;

**worked collaboratively to brainstorm three questions;

**worked collaboratively to navigate to and find the resources;

**used technology in an authentic manner;

**gained new enthusiasm for TeachingBooks.net;

**and, left library knowing more about Anne Ursu and armed with some great questions for her visit!

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