Activating (and Reactivating) Your Concept/Question Board

I have previously written about starting the Concept Question Board Part 1 | Part 2

This post aims to connect the Concept Question Board to your unit opener.

If you do your unit opener right, students should be excited about the unit and that’s the perfect time to capitalize on that excitement for the C/Q Board.

How to Show a Movie

I already wrote about how you might want to show a short film to your class to activate prior knowledge, perhaps something downloaded from Youtube (how to download).

When I show a film, however, instead of presenting it as a break from our regular studies I ask students to be scientists and record notes and questions that may arise while watching the movie. (When students are recording their questions while watching the movie, they talk less). The notes they take become the basis for questions and concepts for the board.

Questions Are About the Unit/Not Stories

Questions posted to the board should be about the unit and not individual stories or even the movie you show. As students ask questions about stories you can either choose to discuss those questions in class and not post them or help students relate those questions to the big ideas of unit. Again, you do have to have big ideas of the unit in mind or you’re unit isn’t about anything.

Students own the board

Unless students interact with the board themselves, it’s just like any other bulletin board in the room. Allow them to put their own concepts and questions up. It can be messy. Either we discuss what they’re going to put on the board ahead of time or I let them put anything on the board and we make sure it all relates to the unit later by revisiting the board.

Revisiting the board

Students won’t necessarily revisit the board without your prompting. The C/Q Board is an appropriate IWT/Workshop must do or may do. In the debrief of IWT I revisit the board and read a few out loud. I’m looking to see that questions and concepts are the in the right place and see if there’s any questions that have been answered or questions that could be answered. Although I don’t expect spelling to be perfect I do ask students to proofread their contributions. When they forget a question mark on the question side or mispell a word that I have posted on the word wall I do expect them to fix those thigns. There’s accountabilty to what I’ve already taught but not conventions I haven’t taught yet.

In the debrief of IWT/Workshop I read a few of the postings aloud. Knowing that their entries will be read does help in getting students to want to revisit the board.

Naturally, student knowledge should grow as you move through the unit. The Concept/Question Board does reflect what students have learned. If the board doesn’t show much then you do have to ask yourself what students have learned. It’s possible that they have learned a lot but you haven’t prompted them to record that knowledge on the board or it’s possible that your unit is a collection of stories and not about anything.

Using a Concept/Question Board or any graphic organzer has value because even if students have learned something from the unit, their retention of that knowledge will be far better if they are able to record that knowledge with words, pictures, or by displaying other artifacts.

One more tip…students should print their comments and questions large and dark. If you can read questions from across the room, the board is much more powerful in terms of shaping students thinking about the unit. Let students use pens. They love this and it makes the board more readable from further away.

4 Responses to “Activating (and Reactivating) Your Concept/Question Board”

  1. Jose Rodriguez Says:

    Hi Mathew,

    I definitely need to make my C/Q board more interactive and run by the students. The beginning of each unit is an opportunity to get back on board. Thanks for the tips. I especially like the taking notes during a video clip. For our next unit for 3rd grade; City Wildlife, I was thinking of making a shot video of the neighborhood around the school. It would be cool to show them to the students. Prompting students and choosing focus questions will make my board more effective.

  2. Creating Lifelong Learners » Blog Archive » Unit Opener Planning Week is Coming 10/15 Says:

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  4. Creating Lifelong Learners » Blog Archive » The Concept/Question Boards: Wikipedia on Your Wall Says:

    […] written previously about how to reactivate the board and how not to let “dumb” questions remain […]

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