Saturday, July 23, 2016

#gafesummit recap

Hey guys: I want to be honest with you. I'm scared to death about this upcoming school year. To be even more honest, I have not been looking forward to going back. There are going to be some changes around me that I am not ready for, and because I am the eternal pessimist, I wasn't happy about it either.

But this past Tuesday, I was at a GAFE summit hosted by our own district! Holly Clark was there, and I have been in awe of this lady for awhile. Not only is she an amazing and engaging speaker, she always says it like it is (but really nicely), and her teaching ideas are phenomenal. Her presentation was called The Right Question (with ideas from the Right Question Institute), what I consider an innovative way to add student choice to your classroom.

Holly mentioned that it would be beneficial to read Make Just One Change in order to fully understand how to incorporate the QFT (Question Formulation Technique) into the classroom. I am glad that I did. I finished the book last night, and in order to help myself incorporate this into my class, I created a sketchnote.


When Holly presented on this topic, she modeled the six components of QFT for us. While it was incredibly valuable to see in action, at the time, I struggled to see how to incorporate the ideas in into my class. Reading the book helped me think through the entire process. I am excited to use these ideas in my class, and I hope that they work with my students. 

Step 1: come up with a QFocus. Instead of asking your students questions/prompts to get them excited about learning, you give them a focus that will have the students generate questions. For my American Indian unit, I ask the students How did American Indians change the history of the United States? Now, for my QFocus, I will tell the students American Indians changed the history of the United States

Step 2: produce questions. I will then have the students work in groups of three to generate questions. They generate questions based on the QFocus. They may come up with questions such as the actual essential question (How did American Indians change the history of the United States? or Who were the American Indians?) The students have 5-8 minutes to write down as many questions as they can. They cannot discuss the questions, judge them, nor answer them. They must write all questions exactly as they say them. If they make statements, they must change them into questions. 

Step 3: assign questions as closed or open-ended. The students look at the questions and determine if the questions are close-ended (have a one word answer) or open-ended (needs further explanation). They should also change three questions from open to closed, and from closed to open. 

Step 4: prioritize questions. There are options, for this step, to have students work individually or in their small group (or both). They have to decide on the top 3 questions, depending on the focus of their QFocus. In my case, for the American Indian unit, I am thinking I will have the students prioritize the order of the questions based on which questions need to be answered first. I am using these questions to help the students research and gain interest in American Indians. Once the students have prioritized, they have to justify their order to the entire class. 

Step 5: next steps. In the case of my American Indian unit, the students will continue to research and create new questions based on their research. They will be working in their groups of three on a unit project, so their research will support them in answering the essential question and making the video project. The nice thing about this is that students get to focus on their own interest with American Indians (i.e. student choice). It is almost like independent research, but with much more support from me. 

Step 6: reflection. I still have to think through exactly what this looks like, but I know that the focus will be how the QFT led to deeper learning, developing confidence, and applying new skills. I will likely have the students vlog using the app Recap and posting their reflection and unit project on their digital portfolio

I know that this is a lot, but I am envisioning (however scary it is), that I will film myself facilitating the QFT in class in order to a) personally reflect and b) give you guys a visual of what this looks like in action. QFT is making me excited for next year (which I was not at the beginning of this week), so at least year 11 won't start off as a bust.

Thanks for reading! I'll see you next week :)

- Rachel
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