6-12, Education, Science

Question Sorts

My engineering classes have been working on helping to design the new playground at Advanced Learning Academy.  On Thursday, the architect, landscape architect, and district Director of Constructor visited the students to explain the process and answer questions.

I wanted to make sure there were some high level questions in there, so I decided to use the “Question Sorts” Visible Thinking Routine from Harvard’s Project Zero. (You can see another post I’ve done about Visible Thinking Routines here.)

Sonya Terborg has a great blog post about questioning here, and I love the quadrant example she gives.

from Sonya Terborg

My original plan was to use the image in a Padlet.  However, as seems to be the case too often recently, our internet has been wonky.  So, I went somewhat “old school” and had the students use Post-Its on our whiteboard.

I changed the wording a bit, and flipped the labels on the y axis so that the more they cared about the answer to the question, the higher up it would be on the axis.

Although the concept appeared to be difficult for the class at first, they soon got the idea.  As always, some questions were “deeper” than others.  “What is the budget?” was asked more than once, but, “What is your idea of a playground of the future?” got high marks from the students.

Photo Sep 07, 9 27 38 AM
(Some of the PostIts fell off before I took the picture.)

The guests wanted to project a presentation, so they were able to pull PostIts off the board as they answered each question while their slides were on the screen.  It turned out that our primitive method of using the whiteboard was a good call after all!


2 thoughts on “Question Sorts”

  1. I still love that question quadrant too. Do you ever use the PostIt Plus app? If not, it is worth looking up. You can take a photo of your quadrant (or have the kids each do it on the app) and the app turns the post-its into fully edit-able notes. They can then rearrange and add notes just as if they were paper and pen notes. I have used this when brainstorming as a group but wanting kids to classify or order their ideas individually. I am loving your posts of late. I just moved from PYP (elementary) to MYP (grades 6-10). I have 22 years of experience in elementary so this is a huge change for me. I am teaching Design. Your thoughts often mirror my own and it is nice to know I am not alone in the chaos of change!

    1. I have seen that app! My new school, unfortunately, does not allow us to install apps without going through tons of red tape – even if they are free. That’s so cool that you and I both made similar career changes at the same time! Some day we must meet in person!

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