At the top and in the middle of your Concept Question Board should be a banner with the name of your theme on it. I’ve created a series of banners for almost every unit in both OCR 2000 and OCR 2002 that can be printed out and put up.
I’ve used photos rather than clip art because I find photos much more powerful. They help to focus students’ attention on the theme. I’ve purchased the photos iStock Photo or downloaded royalty free images.
You can find the banners by selecting your grade level > unit > and then Concept Question Board (choose banner). Or you can jump to any of the Concept Question Board pages here.
I’ve mentioned elsewhere teachers who have used blogging as a modern day platform for their Concept/Question Board.
Alice Mercer has now re-imagined the Concept/Question Board using VoiceThread, an online digital storytelling platform. Here, students record their voices asking questions and telling what they know about the coming unit.
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.
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.
It’s true that there’s no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to the Concept/Question Board (or KWL chart). It’s okay for students for students to put up whatever unit related questions they have whether they’re silly or not. However, what’s not okay is for those silly questions to stay up on the board without answers throughout the unit.
Your teaching should be based on the questions that students have about the unit and should address their misconceptions. If they’re learning and retaining that information then they should be able to answer those questions and move them to the concept side or they should be able to to the Learned column on a KWL chart. Otherwise you’re reinforcing incorrect information rather than disproving it.