Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Finding Out More - 21 of 31


The March Slice of Life Challenge-
                            Thanks to Ruth and Stacey, at Two Writing Teachers - 21 of 31
Tweet at #Slice2013


          Many of you know that students at our school study individual topics, and that they go on trips outside school with trip teachers to visit sites particular to those topics.  Sometimes that means interviewing an expert in the field.  
            When preparing for trips, one of the challenges is to help students learn how to interview.  I've been asked to work with five seven and eight year old girls to practice their interviewing skills.  They have chosen unit topics that will mean that much of their information will come from interviewing experts.  While they are all gifted readers, much of the topic texts are complex.  Examples of these topics are Bees, Pollination and Colony Collapse; Sensory Integration and Dyslexia; and World War Two Weapons.  



            The first session was spent getting to know each other and learning the difference between closed questions and open and/or follow-up questions.  Often students write questions ahead and it is challenging for them to receive an answer and then follow up with one that will offer even more information.  For example, a closed question would be "Linda, did you have pets growing up?"  And often, especially younger students, move right on to the next written question.  Practicing follow-up questioning and understanding the process helps me get to know them, and learning to identify what are good questions is important, too.

        We played a few other games with questions, and then I brought out this small Revolutionary War doll, named Jim.  I told them he was a 14 year old who participated in the war, as did numerous children.  Their job was to discover his "story" through questioning.  I said that he was an expert in how children participated in the war, and would be happy to answer their questions.  Slowly they teased out answers, and one of the girls seemed to understand and was a big help in modeling good questions.  It's terrific when students can help each other!

        Our next adventure is to create a brief newspaper, including stories about one topic or another that they can discover through questioning with the 5 w's and h.  None of this might be new to you, yet I wanted to share that young children, through practice, are able to learn to improve their questioning.  

20 comments:

  1. Your school sounds like such a learning rich place, Linda. I love the idea a practicing questioning this way - quite different from practicing with a partner, especially for a younger age group. How wise to put in the time to prepare now, so the the "real" interviews will be productive. Keep us posted as this adventure continues!

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    1. We'll keep working & I will follow up. Thanks Tara.

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  2. I love the idea of discovering Jim's "story" through questioning. What excellent preparation you provided, Linda.

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    1. Thanks Stacey! It was appropriate for the age; they still love pretending!

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  3. That sounds like so much fun. Have you ever used question grids? I have some stuff I used last year with I-Search papers to help with that. Let me know if you want a copy of it.

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    1. I'd love to have a copy Maya. Will you send it? You can find my e-mail in my profile. Thanks very much.

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  4. Wow- you teach in an amazing place! I love that the students have such authentic work. I am clipping your post, because it has such great examples of how to develop questioning skills-and listening skills-- I know a few adults they could coach! Thank you, Linda. You teach is all so much!

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    1. Thank you Melanie. I hope it's useful. Perhaps I should post about older students' work sometime. That's a different look.

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  5. I love hearing about your school - what an incredible place to work!

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    1. I imagine you would love it, would be a good addition to our staff Katherine. Thanks!

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  6. Hi, Linda. What a cool project! Modeling interview skills is a must -- it's not really a natural conversation, not a skill one picks up, but learns. I loved seeing Jim. I bet he had a lot of information to share with your students.

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    1. Yes, it was a fun group session this time with "Jim" being the highlight. Thank you!

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  7. I enjoy hearing about your experiences with the students at your school. It sounds like an amazing place to teach. I believe there are a lot of adults who could use this process - to learn to ask the right type of questions. My teaching has been with the training of our Stephen Ministers and we do a lot of role playing and learning to listen and ask the right questions. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Judy, it sounds as if we're doing similar things, just with different ages. It's a skill to use all our lives for sure. Thanks!

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  8. These students are lucky to have you to learn from! It sounds like "Jim" taught them a lot! What a cute way to engage them and make it real for them, Linda!

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    1. Different ages, different tricks, right, Jennifer? Thanks.

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  9. This is great Linda. They are absolutely capable of higher level questions when it is modeled and practiced. What a great opportunity for them to prepare for their interviews.

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    1. Thanks Betsy. They are doing well, & I have a few more sessions to do with them.

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  10. I love the idea about them finding Jim's story. What a great idea. I need to think more about this.

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    1. I suspect you might have some artifacts to use like this too, Ruth. I just happened to have the doll from a trip to Boston, but even a picture would work. I also thought postcards would work with place. Thanks.

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Having a conversation is a good thing!