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Essential Question Strategies and the Question Formulation Technique

Learning about the Question Formulation Technique in my graduate studies at Texas Woman’s University has been one of the most valuable additions to my teaching toolkit. This presentation has links to one of the developer’s TEDx talk as well as a video that was made in my classroom at the beginning of the year’s Sculpture I class. You can find out how I have the students return to the essential questions they generated for themselves throughout their creative process, from initial design to their end of project reflection. QFT is a powerful, easy and meaningful way to help our students be more engaged and in charge of their learning.

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Essential Question Strategies and the Question Formulation Technique

  1. 1. • Children’s questioning dramatically drops off after the age of 4 • Our current education system does not teach our students how to formulate their own questions THE IMPORTANCE OF QUESTIONING
  2. 2. The Right Question Institute has a simple, easy process for teaching students how to ask their own questions in order to drive their own thinking and learning.
  3. 3. Authors Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana developed QFT over the course of 20 years of teaching experience. DEVELOPERS OF THE QUESTION FORMULATION TECHNIQUE - QFT Dan Rothstien TEDx Talk here
  5. 5. Questions generated by students • Why do monsters scare people? • Do monsters feel bad about being monsters? • How do their looks explain their emotions? • How do monsters feel about being monsters? • What kind of feelings to do monsters have towards each other? • Why do monsters behave bad? • What makes a monster a monster? • What makes a monster strong? • What makes a monster scary? • What are the emotions monsters show? • What does a monster love?
  6. 6. RETURNING TO QUESTIONS THROUGHOUT PROJECT In order to keep the questions at the center of their learning, they were referred to in all phases of the art production. • I compiled a list of all of the questions each class generated. • Each student chose 3 questions from the master list that they would use during the design phase of their monster. • Once their project was completed, they wrote a reflection about their monster including their driving questions and how they shaped their creation. Here are some of their reflection responses…
  7. 7. I used the question that related the personality of my monster with my own. We are both weird and I thought that I’d portray that into the physical features of my monster. The way I formed his body into his weird/creepy position definitely animated him. My monster’s name is Wesley, but we can call him Wes for short. My monster has shoes and special marks on his body. I think that his shoes give him personality!
  8. 8. One of the questions I chose was: How do you make it look alive? I made it look alive by giving it human characteristics like eyes, ears and toes. Another question was: How does the color explain how the monster feels? My monster is a light purple and light orange which are happy colors. My 3rd question was: How did you make it fit your personality? I made my monster girly by painting it with girly colors.
  9. 9. Does a monster have feelings? Are all monsters bad? Do monsters care? These questions helped me decide the colors and appearance of my monster. My monster is to represent knowledge. The colors of my monster help to give it the feeling of strength. He is named Tork – he is named that because it sounds firm.
  10. 10. My 3 questions were: what do monsters feel, why do monsters feel, and how do monsters express their feelings? These questions helped me a lot by deciding what mood my monster should be in, and how should I make her show that feeling/mood? I animated my monster by giving her a situation. The situation was that she is a little kid monster and she saw something funny, so she is laughing out loud. I also wanted my monster to have some action, so she is clapping and swinging her legs.
  11. 11. I chose: What do monsters feel? Do monsters feel they are monsters? Do monsters feel scary? This shaped my concept which is the transition from human to monster. Little by little, people turn into monsters and one day they look into their mirror and say, “Wow! I’m a monster!” My Inspiration was the day I realized I was a monster. I was hanging out with some of the worst people ever. We were true monsters. We only gossiped and made fun of others. It took a year of being made fun of by them to have that moment where I realized I was a monster too.
  12. 12. Suggestions for using QFT in your students’ art projects • Engage students at the beginning of a project by developing their own essential questions using QFT • Teacher compiles all responses from class for students to choose the 3 questions they want to use to drive their learning • Students write their 3 questions in their sketchbook and answers them to help them with their design process • Instructor checks that student has questions and answers along with their preliminary design • In an end of project reflection, ask the students to elaborate on how the questions helped them design and create their art project
  13. 13. Monster Class of 2013!
  14. 14. RESOURCES • Miller, C. (N.D.). Artist•Teacher•Journal a blog and website about teaching and making art. Retrieved from: • Rothstein, D. & Santana, L. (2011). Make just one change: teach students to ask their own questions. Cambridge, MA : Harvard Education Press. • TEDxSomerville (May 19, 2012). Dan Rothstein: did Socrates get it wrong? Retrieved from: • The Right Question Institute (N.D.). Retrieved from: Visit my website for a link to this presentation