The Right Question Institute / Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions

Cultivating Student Questioning to Foster Genuine Inquiry, Self-Directed Learning and Change

Photo of Joanne Miyahara
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I was inspired when I heard Warren Berger speak at a conference, and then his book, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, introduced me to The Right Question Institute (rightquestion.org).  Many free resources are on the website (one just needs to join the Educator Network); Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana's Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions provides even more resources, research, and examples.

Rothstein and Santana share the Question Formulation Technique (QFT), which has been refined over twenty years of research and practice with diverse learners and teachers in multiple disciplines.  It is a clear ritual/routine that can help foster a culture of innovation in all classrooms.  The process has students develop divergent thinking, convergent thinking and metacognition, and it also generates more student ownership and curiosity. 

This past year, I had my students engage in design thinking, and the QFT process was a particularly effective tool.  It helped students collaborate and generate interesting, authentic questions to explore so they could develop ideas to meet genuine needs of their audiences.  Berger defines a beautiful question as "an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something--and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change."  Teaching students, more explicitly, to ask their own questions is a critical foundation for developing both independent learners and a culture of innovation.

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Photo of Michael Schurr

Hi Joanne, how are you? I think you are onto a great idea here and the comments below have really started to frame it out in more detail. We would love for you to share it in the ideate phase.

 A couple of questions that might help frame out this idea:
 What’s this idea about?
Why is this an idea that creates a culture of innovation?
How would you pitch this to other teachers in your school? Your principal?
How’d you get this idea off the ground?

Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or want to talk the idea out in more detail!

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