This is the third book is a series of books for me that have created a real sense of what my classroom could look like. How I could integrate real change to help my students have more rewarding learning opportunities. Not only rewarding but authentic (real-world) learning that is meaningful and truly moves them toward being life-long learners.
We hear all these gimmick ideas and words, but as teachers, I can say we are very seldom taught or shown how to make real change – I’m not even going to get into the problems behind time, collaboration, and support. But the book, Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana offers a distinct strategy that is straightforward.
Chapter by chapter the reader is given the tools for each step of the process to elicit questions from the students. What I really liked about the book was the authentic examples and the troubleshooting suggestions at every step. Some books offer grandiose ideas, but they feel like just utopic ideas. This book shows the real side of things. Where a normal teacher can stumble, how students try to beat the system, and when these initiatives work… and all along helpful strategies to overcome pitfalls are offered.
I know I would/will struggle with the notion of not offering suggestions. I have always offered suggestions to students who are struggling. But as is pointed out in the text, this was a trick the students used to undermind my words of you can cover any content.
I digress with an example, I complete a genius hour in my opening days of class. I allow students to investigate any topic they can relate to our content – which we were exposed to on the opening day. But my downfall is I tell them some examples of things they could explore. I know I get an abnormally high number of projects all on the content I suggested – so they truly believe that is the topic I want (when it isn’t necessarily).
This book made me rethink those opening days. Still, I want to complete the Genius Hour, but now I think I’ll start with a QFocus. Maybe something that states: Earth Science impacts our every day OR Earth Science is all around us. I do not know yet if these are good QFocus statements, but I think they will work to start the question development. I would hope they would lead to great Genius Hour investigations. ‘
Bonus: I started the year working through the Question Formulation Technique, which I already see myself using time again throughout every unit.
I really believe little changes like this one can teach students to question the world, have inquiring minds, and learn that not all questions have answers. Hopefully, this book is one small step forward in building skills for my students.
This book is definitely worth the read in all subject areas for all students. Even in our unknown classroom environments to come there is still plenty of room to develop students’ ability to ask questions – a skill they somehow lost after entering school.