What Ifs and I Wonders

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When I first read Susan Brookhart and Connie M. Moss’ words, I thought of all of the marks that I ever collected.  Thousands of answer totals that I had added up at the top of thousands of pages.  Together they weighed on me.  They made me feel like I had stifled learning and often killed it.  

This weekend it was Angela Maiers that got me thinking again about the value that we put on good questions:

What if and I wonder are expressions that keep our brains in motion.  Curious brains are active brains, and active brains become smart brains.  Like any muscle, the mind becomes stronger with exercise.  Curious people live full and adventurous lives as each new quest and question leads them down roads otherwise not traveled.”

She got me thinking about how we do it.  How do we channel good questions? How do we make good on our students’ questions?  How do we honour both the questions and the voices that ask those questions?

I don’t know.

One idea that I have been thinking about lately is combining Maiers’ what ifs and I wonders with the idea of exit tickets:

Instead of focusing on answers with tickets, maybe we should be focusing on curiosity.  Maybe we should be focusing on questions.

Tickets could be sorted and resorted using my new favourite toy:

Questions could be discussed with students.  They could be sorted to reveal students with shared interests.  They could be annotated using Evernote, and they could serve as powerful artifacts of (and for) student learning.

I’m not sure that any of this will undo the damage of years of answer tallies, but it might build up the stock of the question.  Who knows, if we do it enough, it might even create some lasting change in our schools.  If nothing else, we’ll pump up some thinking muscles.

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