Our free monthly newsletter features educational resources, upcoming learning opportunities (such as webinars, events, and online courses), practical tips, new ideas, and other news. Sign up to receive the newsletter and other occasional updates from RQI.
Here’s a text-only version of our February 2021 newsletter:
Asking questions for Black History Month
Author Jason Reynolds, the 2020-21 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, recently wrote something that caused our ears to perk up. In a post about Black History Month, he talked about the ancient Greek’s concept of history: “History is all about documenting the questions you ask. Which would mean … according to my calculations … to make history would be to ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.”
He continued: “As we celebrate Black History Month this year, let’s not just give presentations on the great people who have shaped our country and our world; let’s also work to figure out what questions they may have asked to do so, and what questions we should be asking now — right now — to make history ourselves, every day.”
It’s no surprise that, at the Right Question Institute, we think Reynolds is onto something. When you deliberately build someone’s skills and confidence to ask questions, you’re equipping them with a tool to shape their own history and the history around them.
Here are some resources for sparking students’ curiosity about Black History Month and getting those questions flowing!
- History Detectives: Voting Rights in Mississippi, 1964 — Civil Rights Teaching (incorporates the QFT)
- Using History’s Mysteries to Teach African American History — Emerging America
- Black History Month: Teaching the Complete History — Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance)
- The History Behind Black History Month — Learning for Justice
- African American Studies Research Guides Offer a Gateway to Primary and Secondary Sources — Teaching with the Library of Congress
Using quotations to generate questions and conversation
Dan Fouts loves quotations. “Used with the right teaching strategy, quotes can be great question-generators and conversation starters,” he writes. Fouts has taught U.S. history, government, and philosophy for nearly 30 years, and he shared two methods for using quotes in the classroom around this gem from Sophocles: “There is no success without hardship.”
Harvard’s QFT course in April
The Harvard Graduate School of Education and RQI will run the online course, Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions: Best Practices in the Question Formulation Technique, from April 13 to May 3.
The course explores ways educators can equip students with a powerful tool for learning, information literacy, critical thinking, and democratic participation: the ability to ask and use questions. The QFT can help educators foster classrooms filled with curiosity, inquiry, engagement, equity, and student voice. this course is appropriate for those working in both in-person and virtual settings and is for educators at all grade levels.
Talking about voting with adult learners
Chicago’s Literacy Works is an adult literacy organization that works with over 40 organizations throughout Illinois to reach an estimated 10,000 individuals pursuing adult education. Leading up to the election, Literacy Works shared RQI’s “Why Vote?” Tool with its tutors, who used it to have more engaging conversations with adult learners around the value of voting. “Before the election I loved this tool, but now I love it even more,” said Literacy Works’ Keighty Ward.
Webinars for legal professionals
The Right Question Institute’s legal program offers training and free resources to legal professionals to foster stronger partnerships with clients and build clients’ voice and ability to navigate the legal system — while also strengthening their ability to advocate for themselves and their families in other settings. RQI recently did a webinar, Legal Advocates as Catalysts for Client Agency: An Introduction to the Right Question Strategy, with the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). One of the attorneys who participated beautifully summarized the significance of RQI’s strategy: “Sometimes my clients look to me to know what questions to ask. I really want to know what issues they are facing day to day, so this is a great tool to help them navigate and develop their own questions.”
What we’re reading
Here are some stories that caught our attention this past month:
- The In-School Push to Fight Misinformation From the Outside World — Hechinger Report
- How ‘Slow Looking’ Can Help Students Develop Skills Across Disciplines— KQED’s MindShift
- 5 Ways to Give Students a Makerspace Experience at Home — Edutopia
- Why Is It So Hard for Workers to Find New Jobs? — Hechinger Report
- 10 Teacher Picks for Best Tech Tools — Edutopia
At the Right Question Institute, we build people’s ability to ask better questions and participate in decisions that affect them. Your donations help us do that. Your support helps bring free online resources to educators and schools, and it helps spread practical, free tools so that more people can begin to navigate complex systems, advocate for themselves, and strengthen their voice in democracy. Thank you for your support and friendship.