In the past several years, questioning has earned a higher degree of importance in the inquiry process. Good preparation before beginning inquiry often determines how successful students are, especially in the early stages. Determining the questions that need answered brings focus to the process of inquiry. And teaching students the skills and importance of asking good questions provides a solid foundation for learning.
In the classroom, teachers need to model good questioning techniques. Students need many opportunities to practice and develop good questioning skills. They need to understand the purpose behind the essential questions they are asking, and that those questions may need to be modified as they discover new knowledge.
INFOhio Resources on Questioning
Questioning in Practice
Whether you are diving into project-based learning, assigning a research project, or developing questions for an assessment, you can model good questioning skills for students by posing an essential question. Essential questions require students to think more deeply about a topic and require more than factual recall. This article from Scholastic Teacher can help you develop effective essential questions for your students.
Another way to provoke learning and get students generating questions of their own includes incorporating an aspect of the arts into your lessons. Great art is sometimes great because it's beautiful, but more often, it is great because it provokes us to feel something, think about something in a different way, or ask questions. Collaborate with the music, choir, band, or art teacher at your school to promote cross-curricular learning.
For an example of how this can work, read R4S, Module 1, Practice, Step 4. In that step, students view an image from Thirty Thinking Images or Google Images and consider what questions that image raises for them. However, if you aren't comfortable turning your students loose in Google Images—and, really, who is?—there are lots of INFOhio resources that make it easy for you and your students to find images and sound files that have been curated by information professionals, and that you and your students can save, cite, include in presentations, or add to a learning management system.
In Academic Search Premier or another EBSCO database from INFOhio, model the following steps for your students:
For younger students, use World Book Kids from INFOhio to easily find images:
Looking for music and other audio clips to provoke questions? World Book Advanced from INFOhio makes it easy to find sound and images associated with a topic.
By introducing students to these research resources in the questioning phase of the inquiry process, not only are you providing a safer environment for students to search for media, you're getting them familiar with the reliable research resources they'll continue to use throughout the rest of the inquiry process. Delving into research without spending time on questioning often results in uninspired projects. Modeling these questioning techniques and expanding their discussion across the curriculum will help foster students' natural curiosity and will bring the steps of the inquiry process into focus.