QFT Continued

Thursday 9/21/2017 – OPENING: 10 minutes

Let’s start off by reviewing the list of questions we came up with yesterday. It’s not everything, but it’s a sampling from most of your lists.

Review of the QFT:

There are 6 key components of the QFT process. We’ve already discussed the first 3, and today we’ll be digging into numbers 4 and 5. They include…

  1. Create a Question Focus
    • Ours = “Not standing out is the same thing as being invisible” (Seth Godin)
  2. Following 4 key rules
    • Ask/write down as many questions as you can
    • Don’t stop to judge, discuss or answer the questions
    • Write down every question as they are stated/thought of (don’t filter or re-word)
    • Change all statements into questions
  3. Produce the questions
    • Generally this involves a set amount of time and rapid-fire question development, with quantity as the goal.
  4. Categorize questions
    • Looking to see which are open-ended and which are closed-ended, and dividing them into groups
    • We also take time to practice re-wording questions of each type into the other, just to get practice with it.
    • The goal being to understand that there are different kinds of questions, and that different kinds of questions get you to different kinds of information. There’s value in both, and it’s useful to know how each might serve your needs.
  5. Prioritize questions
    • In this stage, we start to judge for ourselves which questions are most pressing.
    • Based on the QF, which of these questions do we really need to answer first?
    • These will create the foundation for…
  6. Next steps
    • We’ll get more into this down the road, but within the Challenge Based Learning framework, this would be what occupies the bulk of the Investigate phase.


LESSON – 45 minutes

As I mentioned above, we’ll be working through steps 4 and 5 of the QFT process. We’ll work together in class to dig deeply into how we properly categorize and prioritize our questions, and we’ll practice rewording questions to change the kinds of answers we’ll get.

“Not standing out is the same thing as being invisible.”

Seth Godin

The Question Formulation Technique

OPENING – 20 minutes

Today begins with a picture. You’ll all be given a different picture, and you’ll be asked to figure out what it is, and what it’s used for. But the thing we’re focusing on today is process. Figuring out exactly what the picture depicts is great, but what I really want from you is a list of the steps you used to get there.

Regardless of where we end up – the right answer or the wrong one (whatever that means) – HOW we get there is incredibly instructive, so paying attention to that process is critical to learning.

I’ll ask a few of you to present your process to the class.

LESSON – 35 minutes

As we’ve discussed, asking good questions is a wonderful driver of learning. But as with many idea-generation activities, good questions can be hard to think up. We tend to get stuck in our own heads, judging the things we think and dismissing them before they ever see the light of day.  How do we change that?

Loads of strategies are available, but we’re going to use one called the Question Formulation Technique (QFT). We’ll focus on just the 1st step today – the idea generation step – and that step has 4 rules:

  1. Write down as many questions as you can in the time given.
  2. Do not stop to answer, discuss or judge.
  3. Write down all questions exactly as you think of them.
  4. Change any statements into questions.

We’ll discuss these rules as a class just to be sure everyone is clear.

To begin our question development, we’re going to use what’s called a Question Focus. This is simply something to get us thinking. And it’s the ‘thing’ we’ll be developing questions about.

Our Question Focus is the quote that appears in the light yellow box to the side of this post (or possibly below it if you’re viewing this on a mobile device).

You’ll have 7 minutes to generate AS MANY QUESTIONS AS YOU CAN about this QF. And please remember, quantity is the key here. Don’t worry about whether these questions are good/bad/stupid/great. Just write down as many as you can think of, we’ll do the work of assessing and organizing these questions tomorrow.

When we’re done, we’ll have a few of us read some of our questions to the class, and we’ll debrief the activity as a group.

“Not standing out is the same thing as being invisible.”

Seth Godin

Asking Questions

OPENING – 10 minutes

Good morning. Today we’ll start off with a graphic organizer that provides us an opportunity to practice asking questions. In the center of the small circle are the words ‘My Day’, and you job is to fill the bigger circle with as many questions as you can about your day. Any kind of question will do.

A few examples…

  • Will I take anyone’s phone today?
  • Will I sit in traffic on my way home?
  • What if I stopped caring about phone use in class?

Get the idea? You’ll have 5 minutes to generate your questions, and then we’ll hear from everyone.

LESSON – 35 minutes

We’re going to spend the rest of the period discussing the importance of questioning. We’ll look at the different kinds of questions, and their different purposes. We’ll explore how some kinds of questions lead us to specific information, while others are so broad they might lead us anywhere.

We’ll use some of the questions you created in the opening to demonstrate this by exploring answers.

“The mountains are calling, and I must go.”

John Muir

CBL: Debrief and Reflect

OPENING – 10 minutes

Let’s start today with a discussion about the work we did on Friday. As you may recall, we had 6 web pages to read and take notes on. Not too much to ask, especially when you consider we don’t have a text-book.

So let’s review by talking about what we learned.

LESSON – 35 minutes

The remainder of the period will be spent on individual written reflections. If we’re going to develop responsibility for our own learning (rather than just come to class and wait for instructions from the teacher), we MUST regularly reflect on the work we’re doing. Not just the what, but the how, and the why.

With that in mind, please respond to the prompts on this reflection form.

NOTE: Written reflections are to be done independently, and quietly.

“The most important thing you’ll learn in 13 years of school has nothing to do with content. It’s about establishing good habits, developing a strong work ethic, and nurturing curiosity.”

Continuing with CBL

OPENING – 5 minutes

Just a quick heads up about the plan for today…

  • We’re going to start with the final presentation from Alondra’s group since we didn’t get to that yesterday.
  • Soon as we’re done with that, I’m going to be working with students on the independent track for a bit. While I do that, please follow the instructions below.
  • When I’m done, we’ll come back together to have a group discussion.
  • And we’ll finish the day with a written response.

LESSON – 50 minutes

Working on your own…25 mins

Please start by getting a computer, getting logged in and getting to a Google search screen. Please note…your work right now is to be independent, and you’re going to need paper and a pen to take notes (yes, I want hand-written notes please). Please get those materials out and ready.

And also note…The below work is to be turned in today. If you don’t make good use of your time, it’s unlikely you’ll finish. And this will be the last item in the grade book for this grading period, along with your weekly work habits grade.


In your browser address bar, please type in the following URL…


Please read the text on this page and take organized notes. How you organize them is up to you, but SOME KIND of organization is necessary. I don’t want just a dense page of text notes. You can use an outline form, Cornell Notes, or something else. But at the very least, I want to see the main section headers and bullet points broken up by paragraph.

You don’t have to watch the video.


Next, hover your mouse over the ABOUT menu, and click on KEY IDEAS.

Please read and take notes on this page as well. No need to watch the video.


Click on FRAMEWORK in the menu bar. Please read and take notes on that page. Videos can be ignored.


Hover your mouse over the FRAMEWORK menu, and click on each of the sub-menus in order (ENGAGE, then INVESTIGATE, then ACT). Read each page and take appropriate notes.Videos can be ignored.

Please be sure in your notes that you sketch out a graphic representation of the CBL framework. Color isn’t necessary, but I’d like to see a graphic that includes all the key phases and the steps in each.

Working as a class…

When I’m done with the other group, we’re going to talk as a class about some of the things you’ve learned. You’ll turn in your notes at this point.

Finally, you’ll finish class today by writing a written response to the following:

Explain what Challenge Based Learning is, making sure to include all the key phases and explain the main steps in each.

“If you don’t care, I don’t care.”

Presentations – What is CBL?

OPENING – 10 minutes

Before we dig in this afternoon, let’s talk a bit about how yesterday went. I know I put a lot on you, leaving you alone (together, but alone) to figure some stuff out on your own. I hope you had a lot of questions…they’re almost always the foundation of great learning.

So let’s just take a few minutes to debrief. What was that process like? What did you do first? Then what? How did you work past initial challenges? What seemed to work to get you moving forward? We’ll give just a short treatment to these and other questions…but it’s critical that you all recognize how important reflecting on our process is so that we can figure out what works, and what doesn’t, and improve our ability to direct our own learning.

LESSON – 50 minutes

Based on what I saw yesterday toward the end of the period, nobody is ready to present. So you’re going to get between 15  and 20 minutes to put together the best presentation you can to answer the question, “What is Challenge Based Learning?”. This was your challenge from yesterday, and it remains today.

I’ll set a timer and you’ll have precisely that much time to work with your group to develop your presentation. When the bell goes off, we’ll begin. Enjoy.

ps…the grading period ends tomorrow, and yes, this will be in it. While I’m not a big fan of grades, I understand they’re necessary. I hope YOU understand that I don’t give them out freely. As I’ve said many times, I care about process more than anything. Producing a great product is nice, but the real learning comes from the process. So dig in and actually engage in the process of learning.

“There are other worlds than these.”

Jake. The Gunslinger (by Stephen King)