Here's the info:
I second Jamie McKenzie and his work - he’s got an excellent toolkit that
helps with question starters and understanding the many kinds of question
there are. I’ve found that it’s easy to ask the who, what, when, where,
how questions.. it helps to help students think about what if, how might,
what might have...
I also will say that IMHO the go-to strategy - and it’s not really a
strategy, it’s more of a thinking process - is the QFT from the Right
Question Institute. Using it with any audience from little kids to adults
allows the ideas to flow, gives a focus to any task, and helps to sort out
those questions that need factual answers (“dig and dive”) in order to gain
knowledge and a context, and those that will help to engage a path for
discovery. I’ve used QFT with elementary and college students and have
always found the process to help open the doors of inquiry in ways that no
other process has. Once they know the process you don’t have to use the
formal process each time.
I agree also with the idea that teachers want to center on a product
because it’s easy to assess. But I claim that one can easily assess along
the way (assess notes, assess citations, assess claims and the arguments as
they are being built through quizzes, journals, reflection writing ,etc)
AND this makes it easier to actually assess the product from a design and
If you don’t let the students even go to the computer to design the
infographic, or write the paper, or create their powerpoint until you’ve
checked - and given a passing grade to - those notes, quizzes, and
journals, pathfinders or a proposal (vs a rough draft) then you’ll know
that after you’ve given them the nod that they’ve gotten a “c” on the work
…then they can “up” the grade by presenting their claim or completing their
product in a way that engages you and the class and shows off the work /
gives the evidence to the claims, meets all the criteria of good work,
You can set design criteria, and grade the product without having to worry
about if they did “good history or good science” - because, you know they
Teaching students how to question and ask the right questions in a
particular situation is the most essential skill we can teach them, IMO.
For only if we have the question can we find or develop the most
appropriate answer or solution.
We have to remember that our students are still very young, are only
beginning to move from the concrete operations stage of the here and now
and what they can see, touch, taste and feel and into the more abstract
world of what if. As teachers we have a critical role in modelling
questions for them so they can pose questions as well as answer them - we
can't just expect them to do it by themselves. So we need to give them lots
of opportunities to practise posing questions through looking at objects,
pictures and so forth, even if the questions don't necessarily lead to
answers. In this case the question is more important than the answer.
Having decided whether they need to investigate, explain, describe, analyse
or persuade, I've always got my students to start with two key questions...
What do I already know about the topic/issue?
What more do I need to find out?
That way they are making connections between the known and unknown so there
is engagement and a bridge to cross, but they aren't wasting time
investigating stuff they already know.
My go-to person was always Jamie Mackenzie http://questioning.org/ which
has a video about his questioning toolkit (in print at
The best resource I can suggest is to investigate Guided Inquiry (lots of
images of the model online to start your thinking); go to Guided Inquiry
Design https://guidedinquirydesign.com/gid/ and get Guided Inquiry Design®:
A Framework for Inquiry in Your School
Book by Ann K. Caspari, Carol Kuhlthau, and Leslie K. Maniotes. It's a
process that has grown out of Kuhlthau's research into information literacy
which differs from others' because she added the affective domain to her
model. She acknowledged that when presented with something new we feel
confused and confronted, even overwhelmed, but with guidance and support
we can work our way through to a solution.
I know many teachers and administrators like to focus on the product
because it overtly is assessable against a rubric and so a grade can be
given, IMO the process is more important than the product because it is the
process that the student follows that can be transferred to new learning
situations. Identifying and defining the initial problem, whether
self-imposed or set by someone or circumstance, using the questions that
form a core part of any instructional model (such as those is my version of
the Information Literacy Process
http://500hats.edublogs.org/information-literacy-process/ is at the core,
and at the core of that is the ability to ask quality questions - which
generally lead to further questions.
He QFT is super easy to learn and follow with a little guidance to start.
Question Formulation Technique. Easy to find online.
I use a process that my librarian used with my English classes back when I
taught in a high school. I have found that it works at the middle school
level as well. I created a graphic organizer that has students narrow their
research topic and develop a research question by answering the following
1. What subject areas or topics are you interested in? (e.g. Civil War,
pandas, Titanic, etc.)
2. Choose one that you want to focus on (e.g. Titanic)
3. What questions do you have about this topic? (or What do I want to
know/learn about the topic?) (list 2-3 questions)
4. Choose one question to focus on - this is your research question
Then the teacher and I move around the room and make sure each question is
researchable and is not a yes/no/data specific question (e.g. "When did the
Titanic sink" is too data specific). This step is guided by what the
purpose of the research is, but in our case the purpose is usually for
students to write a page or two based on the research.
There is also a space on the graphic organizer for "presearch" - if a
student needs to skim resources to develop an interest in a particular
topic we encourage them to record the sources in case they can use them
during their focused research.
I change up this wording on the graphic organizer depending on the level of
students and the purpose of their research, but the steps of narrowing down
the topic to a research question are the same.
Hi Daniel, I am aware of many models of inquiry but my favorite is Points
of Inquiry: https://bctla.ca/resources/point-of-inquiry/
The Points of Inquiry | BC Teacher-Librarians' Association
The Points of Inquiry: Inquiry-based Learning for Classroom and School
Libraries (2011) Integration of Technology screencast Top Ten Research
Skills for University Students Note: Further French translation of the
documents is planned.
The Big6 model is widely used as well: https://libguides.ops.org/big6
LibGuides: Big 6+ Inquiry Process: Big 6+ Inquiry
LibGuides: Big 6+ Inquiry Process: Big 6+ Inquiry
I have a high school colleague whose entire school has adopted the Global
Digital Citizen's Solution Fluency Model (see attached).
Here's a quick video that uses a Hogwarts analogy to explain different ways
that inquiry models are implemented.
And an infographic that helps us understand the inquiry continuum (from
Also check out Kuhlthau's Guided Inquiry (
) and Stripling and Pitts (http://eduscapes.com/infooriginal/pitts.html)
Guided Inquiry Design | Carol Kuhlthau - Rutgers University
Kuhlthau, Maniotes, and Caspari 2012. From the ISP to Guided Inquiry
Design. The ISP model describes what students’ experience in the phases of
the inquiry process.
Models: Stripling and Pitts Research Process Model
Stripling and Pitts Research Process Model. The late 1980s was a time when
many librarians and educators were discussing the importance of information
Library Media Specialist, Maryvale Intermediate and Middle Schools
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