• Navigating the website

    • What is the Right Question Network and why should I join?

      The Right Question Network is a community of practitioners dedicated to facilitating strategies so individuals can learn how to ask their own questions and more effectively participate in the decision-making process. It is free to register, and you will be able to access hundreds of resources that will support your work in the field. Register for free today, or learn more about the benefits of joining the Right Question Network.

    • I already have an account, where do I log in?

      You can log in here.

    • I forgot my password, what should I do?

      You can retrieve your forgotten password here.

    • Why can't I access the resources?

      Some of our resources may only be accessed after logging in or register for our free, Right Question Network.

    • Where can I find information about upcoming RQI events?

      RQI hosts online learning experiences, regional seminars, presents at conferences, and occasionally offers PD. To peruse upcoming public and private events, please visit our events page.

    • Can I share RQI's resources or teach the strategy to my colleagues?

      All of our materials are available under a Creative Commons Sharealike license, which means you are welcome to use, adapt, revise, repurpose, and share our materials for noncommercial use.

      We encourage you to make use and share these resources in many different ways including on your school or district website, with your professional networks, through professional development on the strategies, at conferences and seminars, download then adapt the resources to better align with your initiatives, and countless other ways! We just ask that you please reference:

      “Source: The Right Question Institute – www.rightquestion.org”

      on all materials you use or adapt that include our educational strategies, and that you encourage your colleagues to sign up on our website to directly access resources.

      And, if you do use or share the strategies with your colleagues, we would love to hear how it went! Tweet at @RightQuestion or contact us for a chance to have your work featured on the RQI website.

      If you are interested in sharing RQI’s resources for commercial purposes you must contact us by selecting the “Permission for Use” option on the contact form.

  • Teaching + Learning

    • Why is the skill of question formulation so important?

      A good question can spark curiosity and fuel creativity, understanding, and innovation. Question formulation is a vital skill for critical thinking, literacy, and civic engagement in the 21st century. Yet, it is rare that the skill of question formulation is deliberately taught to students. How can we transform teaching and learning and create learning environments so all students can build their own capacity to take greater ownership and develop higher order thinking skills through formulating questions? Read this Education Week post to learn more about why question formulation is an essential skill for today’s learners to develop and hone.

    • What is the Question Formulation Technique (QFT)?

      The Question Formulation Technique (QFT) is a powerful, stepwise, and easy-to-use strategy that educators can facilitate to teach students how to formulate, work with, and use their own questions. Through this process, students become more curious, engaged learners as they:

      • generate their own questions
      • identify different types of questions
      • work with their questions as they change them from one type to another
      • prioritize questions
      • discuss next steps and strategize on how they will us their questions
      • make use of their questions to drive teaching and learning as the lesson or unit progresses

      We recommend you start here if you are new to the QFT.

    • Can the Right Question Institute (RQI) visit my school or district to facilitate professional development (PD)?

      For QFT in the classroom, we currently have limited capacity to provide PD to individual schools and districts. We occasionally provide PD to state departments of education, large organizations that provide support and PD to classroom educators, and larger regions/ districts serving Title I students. If your inquiry meets these criteria or you are unsure, please contact us by using the contact form and select the option “Keynote/ Active Learning Experience Request.” Additionally, we do our best to connect schools and districts interested in PD with regional QFT facilitators who are well versed in the QFT. If you would like to explore this option, please indicate that you are open to this possibility in any of the open contact form text boxes.

      Also, twice a year we run an online course in collaboration with Professional Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. This course is a great opportunity for you and your colleagues to learn with RQI staff and with educators from around the world.

    • How can I become a QFT trainer?

      We do not currently offer formal QFT training certification. Many educators who attend our events or otherwise learn and use the QFT go on to become a resource on the strategy for their school, district, and region. This includes educators with many different job titles, including those serving in PD roles as well as educators who are classroom teachers. Since we provide the QFT under a creative commons license, you are able and encouraged to share the QFT with your colleagues. We just ask that you reference our website and let them know that they can access free, easy-to-use resources at www.rightquestion.org.

    • How much time do I need to teach the QFT?

      It may take a minimum of 40 to 45 minutes for your students to complete all six steps the first time you introduce the QFT process in your classroom. As your students gain experience using the QFT, you will find that they can run through the process very quickly, in 20 to 30 minutes, even when working independently or in small groups.

    • How do you address teachers who say they don't have time to do the QFT or that the process takes too long?

      The QFT is not a detour, but rather a shortcut for educators to more efficiently or effectively get to where they are already going with a lesson or unit. Educators can design a QFT to help students to develop thesis statements. Spending more time on their questions and theses at the beginning of a research project can help students improve the quality of their research and writing. By no means is the QFT a silver bullet, nor is it relevant to every lesson you will ever teach. However, with some thoughtful lesson design it can be one technique to support the work you are already doing and one small change you can make in your teaching to provide another opportunity for student-centered learning.

    • Once students have asked their questions, what do they do next?

      There are examples on how to use the QFT at different points in a lesson in this Educational Leadership article. There are many examples across grade levels and subject areas that you can find here, and the Right Question Network offers free educational resources to support your work on teaching students how to ask their own questions. It is essential that educators conceive how they would like their students to use their questions ahead of time and adjust facilitation instructions to lend to the planned next steps.

    • Aren’t open-ended questions better than closed-ended questions?

      Research answers a question — so once students have generated them, and chosen their priority questions, they can begin their research. Using open-ended questions can generate more ideas for topic-building, open up those big ideas for discussions, or create opportunities to see different perspectives. A distinct benefit to closed-ended questions is that they spur us on to search for facts so that we can develop a context for our topic. Learning benefits differently from both open-ended questions and closed-ended questions, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both types of questions depending on what you are hoping to learn.

    • How can I use the QFT with English Language Learners?

      RQI Director of Professional Learning Sarah Westbrook and RQI interns Erin Kim and Caroline Glaenzer worked on crafting this document which details adaptations. This document was informed and driven by the work of educators in the field who are innovating and tailoring the QFT ingeniously to better support their work.

      English is so different from many languages in how we frame our question sentences. In an ELL class, we can scaffold the QFT process by working together as a class and write them as spoken, finish the content direction of the lesson; and then go back at another time and look at them with an English language lesson in mind. “What does this word order really ask?” or “What are other ways we can ask the same things?” That way you’ve separated the question building process from the language-building process.

    • What are some best practices for using the QFT with younger students?

      This is a blog written by a group of educators from Melrose, Mass., that captures well how the QFT may be used in pre-K. This blog paints a comprehensive picture of the QFT in a first grade classroom, and the piece illustrates how the QFT may unfold over the course of a few days in an early elementary context. I quite enjoy this video clip featuring Sheila Varney, a kindergarten teacher from Kentucky where she speaks to her students’ question-asking abilities. Peruse this PDF for additional insight into using the QFT with younger students.

    • What kind of educational technology is necessary for the QFT?

      Typically, the QFT is implemented as a paper-and-pencil technique (or chart paper and marker technique!). There is something powerful about the turn-taking, the co-constructing of questions as students build off one another’s thinking, and the speaking and listening aspect that may not translate to online mediums. As with any adaptation, however, educators should think critically and intentionally about how the adjustments will benefit their lesson, their teaching and student learning.

      One could easily use applications such as Padlet or Google Docs for group question-building, using QFT with paper – small group work with butcher paper, or whole group on the board — keeps the questions alive and in an order that helps the process work
      smoothly.

    • The QFocus seems to be the most challenging task. Does it take time to get good at it?

      It is helpful to remember that there is no “right” QFocus. Anticipating possible student questions to be generated from a QFocus ahead of time can help check to see if the process might go in a direction we like. Ask colleagues! The RQI website offers some valuable worksheets that help with this process.

      The quality of the QFocus depends on the aims and goals of your lesson or unit, how you intend students to use their questions, and whether what you anticipate students will ask about the QFocus is in fact what is elicited. These aspects should all be aligned. The QFocus can be anything — except a question. Keep it simple. Consider using a visual or provocative statement that students can relate to. This PowerPoint and this QFT planning tool can support your QFT design. Many educators have said that the QFocus design becomes easier the more often they use the QFT in the classroom.

    • What about quiet students? Will they feel comfortable asking questions?

      For some students, one of the major takeaways from the QFT is learning that their peers also have intriguing and salient questions to ask. The QFT is an equitable teaching strategy, and the rules and steps create a space that invites even the quieter students to feel comfortable contributing. This is partially because students do not feel the pressure to know everything. Instead, they are given time to think about what they do not yet know. As one student from Newton, Mass., shared, “A lot of times someone will come up with a question that I would have never thought of, and it really helps everybody understand more just because of that one question.” For students who tend to participate regardless of the activity, hearing from quieter students is an extremely powerful learning experience. The QFT creates an engaging environment for all students to learn from each other’s questions.

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