One of the things I “dread” is the report or research project in which students simply regurgitate a website on a tri-fold board or a Keynote filled with (stolen) text. I think the key to avoiding such things, is good questions. And, the better the question, the better the project.
As a teacher in a PYP school, I teach a concept driven curriculum. Our focus is on Key Concepts and I often use this framework to help children frame their thinking.
In our current unit, How We Express Ourselves we are looking at the central idea: Artists create for a variety of reasons. I began yesterday with the following news article, photos and slideshow of the painted stairs in Turkey. (Nutshell: Man paints stairs to make people happy. People happy. City not happy. City paints stairs grey. Twitter is on fire with news of grey-mageddon. People all over Turkey start painting their stairs in bright colors as a sign of support and solidarity. Stairs are repainted bright colors).
This led us to a discussion about public art and vandalism. We had loads of questions:
- Is this man an artist or a vandal?
- When is it art and when is it vandalism?
- Who owns public art?
- Can it be art and vandalism?
- Is street art, vandalism?
- Is Banksy an artist or a vandal?
- Who decides if it is art?
We have our PYP Exhibition coming up and I really want the kids in my class to be exposed to thinking conceptually about their questions. We discussed the concepts in groups using a set of concept cards that I made years ago and use in workshops with teachers. Students looked at our questions, looked at the concept and thought of a question that would fit the concept.
Here’s what they came up with (in purple). They then thought about other questions they might have and added these (pink). They are now off on mini research projects to look into their questions.
I was impressed with how easily they were able to think conceptually and frame their questions within the parameters of the concept.
For more information on establishing the routine of Questioning Conceptually, take a look at my previous post which also contains links to additional ways of generating and sorting questions for research and inquiry.
Also, look at this post for updated Question-Concept cards which include the related concepts.