Asking questions is at the heart of what we do as educators. We love to ask questions, but we love it even more when our students ask questions. I learned "The Big Question" from Jim Cain years ago and use it every chance I get.
The version I learned involves handing out a small index card to each participant in the group. I do this as people are walking into the room before the beginning of a program (this gives me a nice chance to connect with everyone right away). I would have the following directions written on a white board or flip chart paper: Please locate a pen (some are on the front table if needed) and write down an "interesting" question you've always wanted answered. For example, Why is the sky blue? Or, How can a door be a jar? Hold on to your card/question until you receive further instructions.
When everyone is ready to find some answers the idea is to first raise your hand, find someone else doing the same thing, then get together with this person. Ask each other the question you have. Provide the best possible answer (or guess) to your partner's question - even discuss the questions and answers if it feels good to do so. Then, when your conversation is over, trade cards/questions with your partner, raise your hand, find someone else doing the same thing, and repeat the process - this way we find out about other things too. (Depending on your group, you can also tell them to keep their original question and partner up with others to explore a variety of answers to each inquiry.)
When we're done using the cards/questions (how else could you use these cards in a program?), I always collect them up to see what people were asking. Over the years I have kept a variety of interesting questions in order to spark some creative thinking. With some groups I provide pre-made question cards (due to a time limitation or particular objective - e.g., an academic reason perhaps) for them to explore. Here are some of my favorites:
What are some of your favorites? Share in the comments.
All the best,
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This blog is a space for hands-on programable fun - energetic activities and ideas that can be used as a means to bring people together; activities and ideas we as educators can add to our social development curriculums.
Dr. Chris Cavert is an internationally known author, speaker, and trainer in the area of adventure-based activity programming and its relation to community and pro-social behavior development.