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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thinking Routine

I've been spending a little time re-reading and reviewing Tom March's new article on WebQuests. I mentioned it early.

One of the sections that I am reflecting on heavily is about the Thinking Routines. Tom shares three "formats" that are frequently used in classroom. The one I like best, because it fits my personality and style, is See > Think > Wonder.
  • What do you see?
  • What do you think about that?
  • What does it make you wonder?
This format lends itself to discussion and reflection. The suggested use is with art, or museum trips. However, with very little imagination, it can be broadened. Twenty years ago, in a different setting (youth minstry), a friend and I published something we called a magalogue (part magazine, part catalogue) called So What? It was aimed at what we thought were important issues for the church to consider in the wake of the scandels of the 1980s. The concept of the magalogue was to answer the question, "so what?," and explain why some things in life really are important. We were going to add a second publication called Who Cares? directed to youth workers, who cared about young people.

Anyway, I have never forgotten what motivated me in the 1980s in working with kids, and the guiding question, under which I evaluate most things, is "So what?" What difference will this (whatever "this" is) really make in the life and growth of those affected by the "thing." In education, I find myself asking this question everyday. New reading program...so what? New leadership in the system...so what? New standards from the state...so what? NCLB...so what? If the answer to "so what?" becomes something that effects my values, beliefs, purpose, then I fight for what I think is right. It is how I live with no regrets.

As I said, I have been thinking and reflecting on the Thinking Routines Tom mentioned. I have developed my own, which when I am in the classroom again (see future entries about my desire to return to the classroom) I think I can use consistently with my students.
  • What's Up? - Identify the issue. What are the "sides of the story?"
  • So What? - Why is this issue worth our time and consideration?
  • Who Cares? - What difference does it make, or could it make in your life to make a difference?
I can see myself wrapping everything I do around these three simple questions. I can also see myself influencing my students to developing a way in which the can begin to think critically on a topic. I am trying to find out more about the Thinking Routines Tom briefly discusses.

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