From theater programs in China to history classes in Argentina, the Question Formulation Technique has spread to classrooms in more than 130 countries around the world.
Last spring, educators from Peru, Mongolia, Kenya, Greece, Australia, Saudi Arabia and 24 other countries came together for the online course we run in partnership with the Harvard Graduate School of Education (which begins again this year starting on April 15).
Moreover, educators around the world are using the QFT in thought-provoking ways, and they often share their experiences on Twitter.
In Hong Kong, Ms. Percival, a drama teacher who tweets from @DramaTeachAmyP, used the QFT to have students formulate questions about what it means to be a props designer.
Students’ questions were wide ranging, from, “What’s their purpose?” and, “How much do they earn?” to things like, “Do they have limited supplies?” and, “How do they know what props to make?”
I’ve been encouraging G4 to be asking questions using the @RightQuestion #FQT to get their curiosity and inquiry skills going #inquiry #inquirymindset #inquirylearning #questioning #dramaarmy #DramaticEducation #StamfordHK #CognitaWay pic.twitter.com/IMGJ38Yxk1
— Ms A Percival (@DramaTeachAmyP) March 20, 2018
This is a great example of an arts teacher using the QFT to spark key questions that will help students complete a complex project, such as planning, producing, and performing a play.
Elsewhere in China – Shanghai to be specific – Tiffany Walters worked with students to get them asking questions about fractions. She presented them with the image of a circle, divided into one-half and one-quarter pieces, alongside a long rectangle labeled with the number “1.” Here were some of her students’ questions:
“Why did you mix the fractions?” “Why is it a circle when it can be a square?” “Who made fractions?” and, for the existentialists among you, “What does it all mean?”
— Tiffany Walters (@tiffanywalters) May 2, 2018
She introduced students to a research project about World War II conspiracy theories by doing a QFT session about “the issue of historical truth.”
The questions were good: “Who decides the truth about history?” “Is there only one historical truth?” “How can we find historical truth?” and, “What sources offer historical truth?”
Before launching our research paper on WWII-related conspiracy theories, SS10 students discussed the issue of historical truth. Here's some of the best questions they came up with. #sschat #aelincoln #historicalthinking #qft pic.twitter.com/XJ78O2XEw9
— Alli Poirot (@Ms_Poirot) March 2, 2018
Moving from South America to North America – and to continue with the topic of historical sources – in London, Ontario, Cheryl Orchard conducted a QFT session with sixth-graders using an old black-and-white photograph. It depicts a group of people, including a child, on a ship. “Where was this photograph taken?” was one question. “Why does the child look sick?” “What are their names?”
— Cheryl Orchard (@orchard_cheryl) March 28, 2018
Orchard overheard one student say, “This is fun! Now I want to know more about this.”
Elsewhere in Ontario, Laurie Splinter Day presented elementary school students with a mysterious dark map of Canada covered with white dots. It was accompanied by the statement, “The dots represent communities in Canada without clean tap water.”
Here were some of the students’ questions: “Will the Great Lakes soon be filled with dirty water?” “Does our city have dirty water?” “How can they fix this problem?” and, “How can we raise money for clean water?”
“The dots represent communities in Canada without clean tap water” served as our Q Focus today to begin working on #alcdsbWWD videos with a focus on access to clean water @alcdsb_stfa #FirstNations #QFT @RightQuestion #equity pic.twitter.com/WYjVZ7WQqz
— Laurie Splinter Day (@LSplinterDay) March 28, 2018
These are great questions that help illustrate the importance of developing students’ question-asking skills as a way to nurture democratic habits of mind.
In South Korea, Hyunjin Bang used the QFT with his sixth-graders to explore the concept of happiness. Students asked good questions: “Why is happiness more valuable than money?” “What’s the most important cause of happiness?” and, “Am I happy now? If not, why?” He also had the class formulate birthday questions.
# 1. Birthday partyhttps://t.co/GhvOcwiydF
# 2. Literature classhttps://t.co/lBiDgbV4NE
— Hyunjin Bang (@mayaall45) May 16, 2018
Sometimes learning can take the mind, if not the body, to other countries and times. At Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia, Elizabeth Burgos ran a QFT session in a world language class based on Picasso’s famous 1937 painting, Guernica, representing atrocities of the Spanish Civil War.
Her students, speaking Spanish, asked, “Why are there only two colors in the painting?” “What was Picasso thinking when he painted Guernica?” “What was the impact of the painting?” and, “What current events and/or books have you read that you’re able to connect to the painting?”
— elizabeth burgos (@teacherburgos) May 10, 2018
We love hearing about the work of educators in the field. If you’re interested, here are some more examples:
- English and literature lessons: Beowulf, Romeo and Juliet, and Modern-Day Hester Prynnes
- STEM lessons: Farming on Volcanoes, Flint’s Water Crisis, and Excreting Isopods
- Social studies lessons (mostly): Dinosaur-Killing Aliens, Camshafts, and Kentucky State Legislators
- Lessons for elementary school students: Edible Packing Material, Smelly Barrels, and Regurgitated Owl Food
Send your examples to @RightQuestion on Twitter and use #QFT.
By Chris Orchard: firstname.lastname@example.org.