When Questions are More Important than Answers

PCD teachers are integrating several new inquiry-based teaching and learning methods in the classroom this year, aimed at empowering students with the skills of question formulation. One such process, created by The Right Question Institute, focuses on triggering student curiosity rather than on traditional information delivery.

Director of the Middle School, Jen Caletri, explains it this way: Traditionally, a teacher might start a short story lesson by providing an introduction to the plot, characters, and themes. The teacher might lead a discussion, and students would listen while taking notes. Caletri is excited about how shifting that kind of introduction to a prompt helps generate curiosity and questions. "I might offer a statement like 'The setting drives the story'," she says. "Working in small groups, students then brainstorm a list of questions— about stories, settings—anything that the prompt prompts." Middle and upper school teachers are finding that by producing their own questions, students immediately think more broadly and begin to recognize important concepts related to the content. That's before they even start trying to find the answers.

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