The Concept/Question Board: Wikipedia on Your Wall

The Concept/Question Board, the second cousin twice removed, to the KWL chart, is a required component of the Open Court Reading program. Some teachers don’t use it at all. Others have gotten good at putting them up but then they just kind of hang there like wallpaper, barely touched until the end of the unit when it is taken down and replaced with a new design.

On one side are concepts (what students know about the unit theme) on the other side are questions (what students want to know about the unit theme). What’s missing is a column on what students have learned from the unit. Instead of moving linearly like a KWL chart, the Concept/Question Board is circular in nature (or it should be) with questions being answered and concepts being questioned.

I’ve written previously about how to reactivate the board and how not to let “dumb” questions remain unanswered.

Here’s another analogy that works for me in understanding and reimagining how the board could work. It’s a community edited public display of knowledge about a particular topic. Sounds like…Wikipedia.

What’s interesting about Wikipedia is that because it is user edited, sometimes the information posted there is incorrect. But that’s not the most interesting part. What’s really interesting is that the community does not allow incorrect information to remain there. Over time, users correct information, add and delete information, and give that information a structure.

Here’s a time-lapse video of a Wikipedia entry about the London Bombings recorded in the 24 hours after the bombing. You will not be able to read the text but what you’ll notice is how the information is structured over time and information appears and is removed as new knowledge is gained. Text here has a life. It’s a living, breathing entity.

How does this apply to the Concept/Question Board?

We want the Concept/Question Board to be a living, breathing entity too.

Instead of monitoring students’ entries before they put them up, why not give responsibility for monitoring and editing the board to students.

Instead of only answering questions, why not teach students to monitor concepts and other people’s answers to questions for correctness as well.

Throughout the course of the unit students concepts about the theme should be changing and growing. While the Concept/Question Board is certainly not the only way that knowledge can be constructed about a particular theme, it is a public display of community constructed knowledge.

If you can teach your students to use it in this manner it can be a powerful tool.

More about Concept/Question Boards

5 Responses to The Concept/Question Board: Wikipedia on Your Wall

  1. Excellent analogy between a Wikipedia entry and a Concept/Question Board. The board is a living document of learning with many entries and edits that should occur over the life of the unit. And, like the video depicts, it would be powerful to make a time-lapse video showing how that can happen. I have photos of my own Concept/Question Board when I was in the classroom teaching kindergarten or 1st grade, but I never thought about videotaping the changes that occurred daily (sometimes hourly). Thanks for giving me inspiration to ask one of my colleagues to document her construction/de-construction/reconstruction of her Concept/Question Board.

  2. That’s a great idea John. Unfortunately, in most classrooms there might not be a lot of movement. There is a time-lapse isight program that would work well if set up right to record the board.

  3. Thank you for the explanation. I have been trying to get a grasp on the C/Q board, but it still escapes. This sheds a little light on it.

  4. Thank you Mathew for a great C/QB Ah HA! moment! The analogy between the Wikipedia entry and the C/QB is wonderful!! By allowing the students to edit and organize the information posted, stages of the writing process and the research cycle are revisited routinely in an authentic way, and students are given an additional opportunity to take ownership and responsibility for their learning as an individual and as a community of learners.

  5. Pingback: Creating Lifelong Learners » Blog Archive » The Concept Question Board of the Future

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