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.

Dialogue With A Twist

google_storybuilderlogoHow would you create opportunities for students to practice dialogue? Perhaps it’s talk between two people or two characters in a book or a conversation between you and yourself? MMhh…now that would be interesting. A bit of reflective action produced in video format. And practicing a host of literacy elements to boot.

The tool you ask? It’s Google Story Builder —just hot off the presses in April. Check out this online tool to create dialogue, monologue…the possibilities are endless.

google_storybuilder

Type in the names of characters; enter in dialogue. Add some music in the background and capture the weblink to share your conversation online.  I’ve created one on Questions (yes my favourite topic). Here’s the link:  http://goo.gl/mB5bXf

Sometimes you just have to have a conversation with yourself and sometimes it’s just about plain fun. Imagine if this was used as a documentation reflection piece in the classroom?
I would love to hear how you’re using this new tool?

App #10 of “10 Apps to Countdown Season”

App #10: Partner a beautiful image that you’ve drawn or photographed with interactivity and you’ve got Thinglink. These rich interactives provide another way to curate and organize information. I’ve written about this before using the SAMR Model as an example (developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D) and also here where I was participating in CLMOOC.

Thinglink offers interaction tools that tag photos or images with a a whole group of content, adding a layering effect. The system is built on the use of tags to add more information like audio, other images, web links, video, text information and anything else you might think you wish. Images can be from multiple sources and even a collage of images built through a program like Picmonkey (see App #8) or Pic Collage (app on ipad).  That leads me to think, why not use this as an infographic to visually showcase statistics. Swap PowerPoint with Thinglink and see where it takes you. Use Thinglink to connect all your flipped videos on your blog.  Or have students explain their science experience  or self assessment through sequenced captions. Teacher-Librarians – have you considered this as a tool to teach research skills or how to vet the mountains of information found? 

Simple tips: Sign up for a teacher account. Search inside the site and you’ll find other interactives giving you more ideas. thinglink_xmas

Click on the image to see a message for the holiday season.

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?