Class Question Boards
Why use them?
According to Vale, “Science begins by asking questions and then seeking answers. Young children understand this intuitively as they explore and try to make sense of their surroundings. . . . Encouraging questioning helps to bring the true spirit of science into our educational system, and the art of asking good questions constitutes an important skill to foster for practicing scientists.” (Vale, 2013) As noted by Weizman, Shwartz & Fortus, there are four advantages to using Class Question Boards as an instructional tool to help students make sense of phenomena:
Class Question Boards, also called Driving Question Boards are a powerful instructional strategy that engages students in processing investigations and other data to work through multiple iterations to build an explanation of a puzzling phenomenon. They, similar to Summary Tables, Competing Hypotheses, become a bridge between experiences and conceptual understanding. In order to complete them, students and classrooms must experience rich science discourse based on experiences and several of the Science and Engineering Practices, especially Asking Questions.
How Do We Use Class Question Boards?
Initial set up: When first introducing the CQB at the beginning of an instructional cycle (often shortly after presenting the anchoring phenomenon), students are invited to brainstorm as many questions as they can about the phenomenon. Encourage students to ask questions that they feel will help them explain the phenomenon. With older students this initial brainstorm may be done in notebooks or on sticky notes followed by a small group discussion of their questions. With younger students, these may be shared first in small groups (without recording). Then in a whole class discourse each team can share one question at a time which is then recorded by the teacher on chart paper or white board. During this recording, all responses are accepted and other groups are invited to concur with nominated questions if they had a similar question in their group. This could be recorded as check marks or pluses next to the questions, or if written on stickies, they may add the question to that area of the board. Once all questions have been shared and recorded, often students can be invited to look for patterns and decide if some questions are related and should be “put together” or grouped in some fashion. One great teacher tip from Nordine and Torres, suggests that teachers make a “draft” CQB before this initial set up with students, to refer to during this discussion and sharing so that any redirecting might occur as necessary. (Nordine and Torres, 2013) This could be crafted by looking at the “Investigation Questions” for each lesson in the cycle. Finally, it is not critical that all questions are included at this phase since students typically will discover in the midst of exploring that there are other questions they need to find answers to. (Nordine and Torres, 2013)
we know?” and “What questions do we still need to know?” Often times this will also lead to revisions of the CQB in which some questions are removed, some are answered, some evidence may be included, and/or some new questions are added. As noted by Nordine and Torres, “During sense-making discussions at the end of activities, the DQB is helpful for ensuring focus and fostering deeper thinking about the most central ideas in the unit. If a student asks an “off-the-wall” question, we can honor the student’s curiosity without derailing the discussion by asking him or her to write the question on a sticky note and put it in a “parking lot” section of the DQB, which holds questions that are interesting but not related.” (Nordine and Torres, 2013)
Finally, at the end of an IC, we can finalize the CQB by ensuring that the critical questions for explaining
the phenomenon are answered and that there is also supporting evidence for our answers. If there are further questions arising, suggest some other resources or upcoming opportunities there might be to answer them. Relate this process to how scientists ask and answer questions and note, “there is always more questions to be answered in science!” At this point, the CQB is an excellent tool and resource for students to use in crafting a final explanation, argument, or model to explain the Anchoring Phenomenon.
Class Question Boards cause students to employ scientific practices to consider big ideas and develop concepts in a highly engaging way. After all the questions come from the students! As Wiggins and McTighe note,
“From a pedagogical point of view, we seek questions that are likely to make students want to do two things: (1) actively pursue an inquiry and not be satisfied with glib, superficial answers, and (2) willingly learn content along the way in the service of the inquiry. That's why the best questions, used properly, make learning more active and enjoyable. When such questions are employed effectively, students experience far less sense of pointless drudgery because they are acquiring knowledge and skill for more obvious and worthy reasons. The learning is thus more intrinsically than extrinsically motivated, making it far more likely that students will persist with the work required for understanding and continuous improvement.” (2013)
Some Resources for further investigation:
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Phenomenal Science Leadership Team