This afternoon I just “happened” to be browsing Twitter and, like so many times before, I had to follow links posted by some of my favorite tweeps (pointing at you, @davidtedu!). Long story short: with less than a week to the First Day of School, I’ve completely switched my plans in order to introduce the Question Formulation Technique to my students right off the bat so that we can practice it all year.

Quite frankly, it’s essentially Brainstorming and Followup on steroids, but what I love about this new-to-me technique is its applicability to SO MANY areas of education AND LIFE! Most importantly, students can LEARN this critical skill.

Below are my notes on following the technique as laid out in the Educator Den section of the Right Question Institute website:


I started with STEP 1 – Select a QFocus (Question Focus). I selected “Students are not asking questions.”  STEP 2 – Producing Questions (4 minutes) – I followed the rules to create 18 questions as set forth in my notes, which were basically rigorous brainstorming. In STEP 3 – Categorizing Questions (5 minutes) I categorized my questions as open- or closed-ended and expanded them by transmuting several. I also listed the pros and cons of both types of questions, but I would expect to skip that step as I internalize the process. Steps 4, 5 and 6 (3 minutes, 2 minutes, 3 minutes) are not expressly pictured, although I prioritized my questions with asterisks and wrote out my rationales, then wrote out how I will use my questions and what I learned from the process.

I envision teaching students to apply this strategy to many things such as developing questions for Socratic seminars, processing their own learning in other subjects, and, most importantly to MY classes, exploring ideas and making plans for their 20% Time projects.

First day of school? Bring it on!