Thinking in Questions – Strategies

questions_globalIf the act of questioning is so important to problem-solving and creativity, how do you teach “how to think in questions”?  We make assumptions that questioning is automatic. Experience tells me that it isn’t. While there are many layers to great questioning, small activities interspersed and integrated into a regular day may provide connections more than a single lesson or unit (just how would one do a unit on questions?).

This activity is partly based on the flashcard and group generation method. questioncards It can be used any time you wish to generate questions from different lenses. For each group, hand out a bunch of flashcards that have a single word on each card (How..Why..What..Who..Where..).  Provide a topic of study (eg. cetaceans in captivity, pipelines, etc.).  Have each group generate questions under each flashcard (these can be scribbled on strip paper or post-it notes). Place the same question terms on classroom walls. Have students collect and collate all of the questions under each term. They can categorize as to ‘fat’ or ‘skinny’ questions and why. Consider gallery walks to generate broader questions. Students can then write a post culminating their thoughts.

Or how about using a technology platform like Google Hangout to connect GHangout_questmarkwith another classroom in a different location and participate in a ‘Mystery Hangout’. To do this, teachers might create a class account in Google. Generally the process is a merge between 20 questions, communication and battleship. The goal is to practice developing great questions to cast a better net of answers. Once questions are generated, the teacher sets up a date/time with another teacher to have the hangout. (Consider time zones if connecting to other provinces or countries.) A question is posed live to the other site.  The response gained offer clues to the answer from the other site. You can certainly tell that pre-practice of questioning is a must before connecting online. Imagine using this process to gain information on geography, history or science. Using Google Hangout can open the door and flatten the classroom walls creating a connected environment.

How do you create opportunities to practice questioning? Would love to hear your thoughts.


App #9 of “10 Apps to Countdown Season”

App #9: In our effort to highlight the SAMR Model of integration of technology, we’ve been considering what activities might fit into Redefinition (technology that allows creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable). What activities might have significant impact to student outcomes? The “tell your story” concept remains one of the powerful ways we have to teach others, to increase audience, to learn new processes, to share expert knowledge in safe ways (consider also that shy student in your class). app_tellagami

Animations are live and well. While many are found in game environments, why not connect our learning outcomes above to the creation of animations – and no, you won’t spend a ton of time learning software! Tellagami is an app for ipad or android (love that) and produces animated characters (much like Voki or other avatar programs) that can be saved to the camera library, imported into other apps or uploaded to a blog or other website. tellagami_screen Have students create a teaching session or speech (in another language like French, Spanish, etc.) and create a gami to deliver the content.  How about the significance of a historic event via a gami? Complete a biography of a personal hero? Tell a story from the first person perspective. Or how about in Special Ed, where a student might need lots of practice in speaking.  Capturing and “freezing words in time” offers a great way to reflect upon both speech and ideas.
What makes this app a ‘cut above’ are several things: ability to insert own backgrounds (including drawings), ability to save to camera library and no wifi needed unless you wish to upload to a site.  This allows for so many other possibilities to import to other apps like Explain Everything, iMovie or transferred to a computer (mpeg4) – now we have to talk about workflow.  (Stay tuned for more on this in later posts.)

What can you use Tellagami to do, to learn, to share?

Lightbulb Moment – Conversations

Recently an email landed in my box with a link to a voicethread.  For those of you who haven’t seen VoiceThread, it’s a handy tool for collaborative communication out on the web. voicethread

But let’s start at the beginning.  I was involved in a planning project with a school envisioning a whole flip of their library.  Aaahh, “Martha Stewart” time! An “L” shaped tech research pod, e-projection island, cozy corners and circles of literary conversations, all while engaging the senses and bringing the world in and amplifying voice out.  This  wonderful teacher-librarian wanted to show me exactly her ideas and thoughts – without me having to drive over.  She took a few photos and popped them into a voicethread along with her recorded voice.  Now I’ve worked with voicethreads before but always in curricular content.  It suddenly struck me as this slideshow was going on that I was privy to her thoughts with crystal clarity! Thanks Sylvia!  This has opened the doors to even more possibilities regarding the use of VoiceThread.

How would I Now use this tool? 

  • instructions to show a process (an easy way to use this in a flip classroom)
  • Literature Circle response circle
  • Writing process (“how to” revision group)
  • science experiment (discussion and replay)
  • create/share with iPad
  • oral language development
  • communication/sharing on the class blog to the world
  • documenting learning [student and teacher]
  • interactive session

If you’re considering this with the iPad, consider creating a global class or school account.  This will make life easier.  How are you using VoiceThread?

iPad Apps ShootOut – Multisensory Blitz

District Pro-D arrived on February 22nd.  Offered at two sites (Byrne Creek and Taylor Park) complete with video feed of our keynote to Taylor Park, it served as a reminder that connection, collaboration, ideas generation happen when we all come together.  With over 110 sessions, it was an electrifying event. No small feat for a large school district!

The iPad ShootOut Panel of Dragana Mihic (Teacher-librarian at North), Dave Maclean (Principal at Westridge), Livia Chan and Janet Chow (District Learning Technologies) provided a series of fast-paced rounds of idevice apps framed around the following questions:


Please connect with any of our panel or our Learning Technologies team to further explore. Continue reading “iPad Apps ShootOut – Multisensory Blitz”