Beginning to Close History Fair with the Question Formulation Technique

Wrapping up History Fair isn’t just a flurry of cutting and printing… it’s an important time to reflect and bring closure as we end a long, rigorous, and important process. Inquiry is the driving force of what NHD projects do, and we need to circle back and reflect how that skill has driven our work both implicitly and explicitly. This was also a convenient time to check and see how strong our understanding of the theme is.

We used the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) to begin closing out our History Fair unit. The QFT is an instructional strategy which encourages students to ask questions. More than that, students are taught what kinds of questions reflect comprehension and which return more information. This video is a long example but demonstrates the full strategy:

There are 7 steps in a QFT lesson:

  1. Establish the rules (3-5 min).
  2. Share the prompt (1 min).
  3. Ask questions as a group (5-8 min).
  4. Refine questions (3-5 min).
  5. Prioritize questions (3-5 min).
  6. Identify individual top 3 (1-3 min).
  7. Reflect (5 min).

Below is the prompt we used, and questions a few groups of generated:

Even better, here’s a sample of a group of students discussing the value of a question and whether it’s closed or open. It’s a nice example of the kind of questioning and collaboration this strategy encourages.

Students enjoyed the lesson and found it valuable:

“I thought that it was really helpful and was going to help Izzy and me work on our project because it gave me a new perspective on how to read our project.”

i really liked it and i feel like it helps give me a better understanding on how to ask certain questions just not on history fair but along with other topics”

It is a great lesson to teach people because it gives them something to think about their project and how to make it better.”

“I thought this lesson was fun and paid off and fun to do in groups with classmates/peers.”

It changed the way that I view the project and I now have a better understanding of what we need to have in the project about the stand and what makes sense.”