"Once you have learned how to ask relevant and appropriate questions, you have learned how to learn, and no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know." Neil Postman, Teaching as a Subversive Activity
Module One: Learning to Ask the Right Questions

How can we use Inquiry as the basis of our classroom instruction?


Students today need to have a passion for asking new questions instead of finding the right answers. They need be able to think critically, evaluate information, and solve problems. They must be able to communicate and collaborate with others, as well as be innovative, globally aware, self-directed. The old fashioned research paper that is still assigned in some classrooms is usually a report and students focus on turning in an acceptable product to earn a grade. We must lead them to understand that research is a process that educated people use to find possible answers to difficult questions. When students grasp this concept, their focus will be on the process of asking relevant questions and finding the best information available to them in order to answer their questions.

Neil Postman wrote in his book Teaching as a Subversive Activity that "once you have learned how to ask relevant and appropriate questions, you have learned how to learn, and no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know." If we can convince our students of the truth of this statement, we empower them as learners!


The Intel Education website has helpful information about using Curriculum Framing Questions, Designing Effective Questionsthat target higher-order thinking, and Effective Question Practices for engaging all learners.

Explore Jamie McKenzie's The Question IS the Answer at his From Now On website, including his Questioning Toolkit.

View Nerine Chalmers' presentation (below) on Inquiry in Research. The presentation is posted on Slide Share at http://www.slideshare.net/nchalmers/research-process-2-feb-09




The Importance of Collaborative Inquiry


Vygotskian Perspectives on Literacy research: Constructing Meaning through Collaborative Inquiry. Edited by Carol D. Lee and Peter Smagorinsky, pp. 38-40.
Importance of intellectual interdependence: "Just as interdependence with mentors is crucial during formative years, sustained interaction with one's peers is essential thereafter." (p.38)
Online discussion forums provide a place or academic conversations about the research questions. Having students choose among 4-6 big questions allows for interaction among students who have chosen the same big question. Requiring students to produce a multi-media product within a group after writing their own papers provides a means for students to consider their question from their peers' perspectives.



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