Every week we hear from educators all over the globe who are using the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) and talking about their experiences on Twitter.
It’s a lively conversation, and this sharing among peers is one of the many ways teachers are leaders when it comes to building a thriving community of professional learning.
This month, we’re highlighting how teachers are at the forefront of conversation around student questioning.
Take Sherri Spelic, a physical education teacher at an international school in Vienna. In January, she decided to try the QFT with her high school students. By April, she was using the protocol to facilitate a conference session on diversity and inclusion at the Educational Collaborative for International Schools (ECIS) 2019 Leadership Conference in Lisbon, Portugal. She tweeted, “I appreciated giving participants lots of space to wrestle with their own ideas first and foremost.” You can read more from her blog here: edifiedlistener.blog/.
Meanwhile, in Ontario, Canada, teachers at a Catholic school were participating in “TechFest 2019,” a professional development opportunity “in the areas of embedding technology and implementing UDL” — Universal Design for Learning — “at the classroom and school level.” Several workshops were proposed and led by teachers, including one on the QFT. Teachers put it into immediate effect with fourth graders. Miss Steele tweeted these adorable photos of her students collaboratively asking questions:
Taking what I learned from #ALCDSBTechFest into our classroom today! Using @RightQuestion to launch our Social Studies inquiry! @alcdsb_mart #QFT #engagement #learnerforlife pic.twitter.com/yrdaUyBIhD
— Miss Steele (@MissSteele4) April 24, 2019
Her colleague, Mrs. Campbell, replied, “My class loved it too!!”
— Mrs. Campbell’s Class (@mswhites_class) April 24, 2019
See what else is happening with the QFT in Ontario here.
Besides teaching, mentoring, and nurturing hundreds of children, attending and presenting at educational conferences, and documenting their experiences on Twitter, many teachers also find time to keep professional blogs.
Sixth-grade teacher Marilyn McAlister from Imperial Valley, California, has spent this past school year testing out and refining inquiry-based learning experiences with students. She blogs about it at sunsationalsixthgraders.com/.
In April, her students wrapped up a semester-long project exploring questions and solutions around social issues of their choice:
New Post: Social Awareness Inquiry Cycle –> My 6th graders and I had a fantastic year navigating the inquiry cycle researching, solving, and presenting social awareness concerns.
— Marilyn McAlister (@MarilynEDU) April 24, 2019
She found the QFT to be an invaluable part of that process, tweeting, “QFT has transformed my teaching. Students are doing the heavy lifting and I’m able to guide them through our curriculum while honoring their voice.” Her students reflected on the process, too. One wrote: “After all this QFT session was really good and will help me learn new things, think of ways to use my questions, and help me try to improve my learning.” You can read more and see students’ QFT work in Marilyn’s fantastic blog post.
We’ve had the pleasure of meeting many teachers behind the tweets in our online course through the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which wrapped up its spring run May 5. Teachers immediately applied what they learned to their work.
Course participant Catherine Tommasello of Marietta, Georgia, works with kindergarten students. They’re still learning the basics of reading and writing letters, but that didn’t stop Tommasello from teaching them how to formulate questions. Here, she tweeted her innovative idea to use the QFT as a part of phonics instruction. She included the hashtag #QFTatHarvardGSE so her peers could see.
— Catherine Tommasello (@CTommasello) May 6, 2019
She wrote: “Kindergarten students @TrittSTEM amaze me with the great questions they are now developing on any topic.” The jury’s still out on one such question, which read, “Why is George Washington the prezzudent?”
— Catherine Tommasello (@CTommasello) April 25, 2019
Another course participant got curious during our kickoff webinar and decided to pose her question to the whole twitter community. The participant posted from @NGSS_tweeps, an account run by a rotating group of science educators who discuss anything and everything related to teaching with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). You can read the whole thread about QFT and the Driving Question Board (#DQB) here:
— NGSS_tweeps (@NGSS_tweeps) April 18, 2019
Teachers are incredibly creative in all the ways they incorporate the Question Formulation Technique into their work. They can be equally creative in how they share ideas and build a professional learning community.
We recently learned about the St. Vrain Valley Schools district in Longmont, Colorado, whose teachers speak every week on a podcast called, “The Best Thing I Taught This Week!” Recently, the featured speaker was Tanya Gaurmer, an eighth-grade ELA teacher at Sunset Middle School, who discussed adapting the Question Formulation Technique with her students. “I’ve been geeking out pretty hardcore on questioning,” she admitted.
@Lit8Sunset is featured on this podcast about her Question Formulation Technique! You do such amazing work, Mrs. Gaurmer! https://t.co/BhOt1r7MGx@anthony_barelaS @mgraziani @armstrongalex5 #sunsetib #3E #NiwotFeederStrong
— Sunset Middle School (@SunsetMiddle) May 16, 2019
Image by AJC1.