A few weeks ago Heidi Snow posted a blog about free-questioning. I decided to try this tip in my classroom using the book we’re reading right now called Sidewalk. At first the students had a difficult time with asking questions and not giving or getting answers. However, once we got in the groove of asking questions, they filled three chalkboards full of questions!
After several weeks, I decided to have the students organize these questions. I split the students into two groups and gave them the exact same list of questions, each question on its own strip of paper. Then I had the students, within their groups, divide and organize the questions into groups of similar questions. I had the students use post-its to label their groups of questions. I paralleled this activity with the beginning of writing a paper. This is a great way to figure out what questions need answers or need more information.
When the groups were finished organizing their questions, I had them visit each other’s tables to see the results. We had a thoughtful and insightful discussion about the different ways we approach the organization of a paper. The students also shared that this activity was difficult because some of the questions that the class generated were not clear to them now. I enjoyed listening to their reflective ideas about this process and the importance of being clear while writing, whether they’re writing questions, sentences, or papers.