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Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions
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Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  590 ratings  ·  105 reviews
The authors of Make Just One Change argue that formulating one’s own questions is “the single most essential skill for learning”—and one that should be taught to all students.

They also argue that it should be taught in the simplest way possible. Drawing on twenty years of experience, the authors present the Question Formulation Technique, a concise and powerful protocol t
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Harvard Education Press
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Robyn I teach third grade. I jumped the gun a little and started implementing it as I went along reading the book rather than reading it all first. This see…moreI teach third grade. I jumped the gun a little and started implementing it as I went along reading the book rather than reading it all first. This seems like a no-no according to the book. However, my kids are young so I think they benefitted from taking it a little at a time. We discussed the value of asking questions and we practiced using a Qfocus a few times. We have discussed open and closed questions but have not practiced changing them yet. I am a first-year teacher and want to do a whole lot with this strategy but will probably not get it all down until next year! However, my young students were amazing at generating questions! I expected it to be much more difficult for them.(less)

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Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I now have so many new questions about questions! Can't wait to share what I've learned this year :)
This one will stick with me, especially until I puzzle out how to use these ideas in my classroom. One change? Teach students how to ask their own questions. Since Socrates, teachers ask the questions, questions the answer to which only the teacher knows. Students answer the best they can. It's the natural order.

But what if we had them pose questions? I've already practiced a variation of this the last years I taught Shakespeare. I explained to my students when they attend a Shakespeare play in
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book would have worked better as a 2-page pamphlet. The authors have created a process that seems good, but feel they have to create jargon such as Question Focus to distinguish their techniques as unique. Repeatedly, the authors reported having spent many years perfecting the question-asking process. As such, I expected more trouble-shooting advice. For example, one of the rules is to allow any questions. However, I know that some of my students would ask questions that were completely unr ...more
Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, school
At the end of the last year, all teachers in our building were given a copy of this book to read over the summer. Last week we were reminded that we had to be ready to discuss the book next week.

I put off my homework for as long as I could. I'm no fonder of homework or summer reading than my students. Finally, this weekend, I could put it off no longer.

I can see why the new principal chose it. It's formulaic and it promises instant results. I'm sure any walk-in could easily judge how well we're
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book -- deceptively simple classroom practices that can make some radical changes in a classroom. Doesn't require expensive programs or high tech. The ideas can help students to develop critical thinking skills and take a sincere interest in the topics being studied. Love it.
Karin Ledford
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very practical, structured, simple procedure for getting students to ask their own questions, work through difficulties, and move closer to "owning" their learning. I also think this is a good complement to the Guided Inquiry method of research.
Alison Strandell
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it
My biggest takeaway was that students should be generating their own questions for discussions and the research process (along with some step-by-step strategies for how to implement this). I will definitely keep this book as a resource for the future.
Rob Baker
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting theories and clear, detailed explanations about how to systematically teach students to generate, evaluate, and prioritize their own questions and so help them to "learn more, take ownership of their learning, and demonstrate that they know more than they did before entering our classroom" (149).

The authors also wisely emphasize metacognitive learning that will help students to understand what they have done and why, and so be more likely to apply these techniques to new situations
Stuart Macalpine
Dec 20, 2014 rated it liked it
The book makes a simple case that 'essential questions' should be generated by students, and has a remarkably similar position to Philosophy for Children. I think the protocols offered are surpassed by P4C. One interesting argument is that different questions will suit different kinds of inquiry, and getting students to choose which is best for their experiment/debate/project/science project/extended essay gives a new clarity and quality to the process for letting students choose which of their ...more
Katie Lalor
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: teaching
I had high expectations for this book, and unfortunately they were not met. The way the content was presented it was very dry, however some of the content was thought provoking and applicable for the classroom. I am glad that I read it with co-workers so we can discuss different ways to implement this into the 7th grade classroom. Providing more examples may give readers a better picture of how to use it in the classroom.
Lauren Waters
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
I had a really difficult time getting through this resource, and I felt an educational article would have been sufficient versus an entire book. Although this was a slow read for me, there are a few strategies that I will be trying in my classroom like the question focus word or statement for idea/question generating.
Christie Purdon
Feb 17, 2012 rated it liked it
I appreciate a book that shares research, theory and practical application. The QFT is one that is worth exploring. I will be sharing this with a group of secondary teachers and hope to follow up after some apply it to their practice.
Dennis Fischman
May 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Many teachers start a discussion by asking a provocative question. The "one change" that this book would have you make is to give students a focus--a word, phrase, or short statement--and then get students to ask their own questions!

This is hard work for both students and teachers, but four Rules for Producing Questions will make it easier:

1. Ask as many questions as you can.
2. Do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer the questions.
3. Write down every question exactly as it is stated.
4. Change a
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Our staff book club read this book, and our conversation was engaging. The book's format is similar to a textbook, and although many examples/stories are shared, the writing is still awkward/stilted. The book contends that teaching students to ask questions is the mot important skill they can acquire. The authors suggest that teachers use their Question Formulation Technique that is a process students follow to generate their own questions, improve their questions, prioritize these questions, an ...more
Daniella Araujo
May 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: education
The book departs from a justifiable and reasonable premise: teaching students how to ask their own questions boosts their reasoning skills and is a cheap way of enriching classwork. I feel however that the text was too repetitive and more focused on excessive detailing of their QFT technique. I feel that information has been stretched out to fit a a book. More scientific data and evidence based research would be a nice addition to give more credence to their technique and it would also have made ...more
Maria Caplin
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Quick read I was able to skim the parts that intrigued me. Took some big ideas away that support visual literacy. Allowing students time to write their questions and then teach them the difference between open and closed. Next step prioritize and then use student generated questions. Huge push for divergent, convergent and metacognition thinking. "I was doing heavy lifting for them when I was figuring out which questions" to get them thinking.
Pat Miller
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am a school librarian and I do tons of professional reading and attend tons of professional development. If I had to pick just one book that helped me be a better teacher it would be this book. In my opinion there is too much emphasis on asking students questions and not enough emphasis on getting them to think of their own deep questions. I loved this book and refer to it often.
Kimberly Wiggins
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This would be paired with Make It Stick. The importance of teaching students to develop their own questions and co create a path of learning. This book is so powerful. I wouldn’t wait a second if you’re considering reading it - move it to the top of your list! Parents it’s really written for the classroom, but I can’t tell you how cool it would be to have kids do this at home too!
Mary Lee
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: professional
I'm going to call this a book I read even though I mostly skimmed it. I'm anxious to try this method of teaching students to ask questions. I'll start with science, but I think it will apply well to reading response.
Jeanie Phillips
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A must read for educators! Rothstein and colleagues argue that teachers should teach students how to ask questions and then outline a process to help them do it. Insightful, practical, and useful.
Toni Olivieri-barton
This is a book all educators should read to understand the true benefit of questioning.
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well explained teaching technique with examples and detailed tips. I plan to use this early in January.
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: work
Very good outline of the Question Formulation Technique
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this not matter what you teach. If you have kids, you teach!
Joseph Santiago
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
This book is designed to help educators inspire students with their own curiosity and questions. Questions by themselves generate a degree of self-direct behavior and organize our thoughts to seek information along the lines of our questions. Maturation of our thoughts do not halt after school and using this process can assist anyone to learn more quickly as they think about information and generate questions that open up paths of exploration in materials for students. In using this method you w ...more
Garrett Zecker
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Another somewhat fluffy technical education manual from the Harvard Education Press, Make Just One Change is Rothstein and Santana's shot at exploring their twenty years of research on the Question Formulation Technique and how it can be used in classrooms at any level to help students use metacognitive strategies to ask their own questions and take charge of their own learning. This leads the teacher to be more of a facilitator of information and students to take more of a front seat to critica ...more
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it
This book explains why teachers at all levels need to change instruction from asking students to answer questions to teaching student to ask their own question. It does so with excellent reasoning and an excellent process for doing so. The examples from real classrooms illustrated the success of the method, particularly for the elementary through secondary classrooms.

The topic itself is relatively straightforward – here is the technique and how to implement it, and here are some real-world exam
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pedagogy, textbooks
This book was instrumental in shifting my pedagogy in the college writing composition classroom. It has definitely influenced my teaching philosophy. Asking the “right” question, teaching question generation and demanding students create their own questions is the aim of this book. There is good “how to” information here, if a bit overwrought.

I wish this book had been better edited, but it appears the authors are working on a shoestring. I wish there was a short glossary AT THE BEGINNING to ref
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, teaching
This book is full of great information on helping students become questioners instead of just answerers, which is the role they are accustomed to. What I like is that it is geared toward any age level. Many of the examples are from older grades, but I have used the technique with my third-graders and was thoroughly impressed by their efforts. I haven't implemented the entire process yet, mostly because I was excited and jumped in before finishing the whole book. Because there are a lot of things ...more
Mark Townsend
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: work-life
Rothstein and the rest of the folks at The Right Question Institute have created a truly democratic process for how the classroom can run. Make Just One Change provides a description and series of clarifying examples on the protocol they have formulated, called the "Question Formulation Technique." The QFT is relevant both inside and outside of the classroom - it's something I will definitely assimilate into my own use and teaching of inquiry learning. I gave four stars instead of five because I ...more
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Dan Rothstein, Ed.D., has spent many years learning from the people with whom he has worked and has applied those lessons to designing strategies to promote more effective advocacy and citizen participation efforts. Prior to his work with RQI, he developed and implemented programs in Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Israel as a community educator, organizer and urban planner. He served as Director of ...more

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