11th Grade ELA : Unit #6 - Exploring Identity : Lesson #3

Developing a Research Question

Objective: SWBAT develop research questions that they are genuinely interested in answering by engaging in the Question Formulation Technique, a step by step technique to help students formulate strong questios.
Standards: W.11-12.7
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 Lesson Overview - 0 minutes

In an earlier lesson, students were introduced to the Question Formulation Technique. At this point in the year, students have engaged in the technique a couple of times and all they will need is a brief overview of the process. This QFT Step by Step is a document that gives you an overview of the technique.

In this lesson, students will engage in the Question Formulation Technique to develop questions they are to use for a short research project about the concept of Identity. 

2 Introduce Lesson - 4 minutes

I tell students that today they will be developing questions that will drive a short research project about Identity and to do this they will engage in a process they are familiar with, the Question Formulation Technique. I divide the class into small groups of 4. 

3 Engage in the Question Formulation Technique - 25 minutes

I use this PowerPoint titled "QFT Identity" to guide students through this activity.

I remind them of the four rules of the QFT. Then I show students their question focus, which is the definition we have been using for Identity. I give students approximately 10 minutes to formulate questions in their small groups.

I then give students time to select the three most important questions they came up with and to prioritize their questions and prepare to share. I give each group a sheet of white paper and a marker and ask them to write their three priority questions as large as they can.

I give each group an opportunity to share their three most important questions and their rationale for the selection and prioritizing. These questions are then posted on the wall. Students will select from these questions in the next step.

In this video, I share some student samples.

Student-Formulated Questions
Student Ownership

I am always pleased with the questions students come up when they engage in the Question Formulation Technique. Some of the ones they came up with today are the following:

How does one come to know one's identity?

How do you take control of your identity?

What creates your identity?

To what length would someone go to protect their identity?

Is your identity powerful?

The one question that every single group came up is: Does identity matter? or Is identity important?

This last question actually suggests the fact that my students don't think about their identity that often. They are still wondering about the importance of such concept. I think it is a good question to put forth. Had I come up with questions for them to answer, I would not have selected this particular one. I would have assumed that they all think identity is important and that it does matter and asked other questions. I am glad they are the ones who formulated these questions. The plan is for these to guide their study of the texts I selected for this unit and I believe it is more meaningful for them to be guided by a question that is genuinely on their mind.


4 Select a Research Question - 10 minutes

I tell students that they now have access to a wealth of significant research questions to select from. I ask students to take some time to look over all the questions and select one they are genuinely interested in answering through a short research project. They are free to select a question formulated by any group in the class. I ask students to write the question on a paper.

I give students a few minutes to write a short initial answer to their question. I point out that they are not expected to have a complete and thoughtful question now, but that it is important to put their initial thoughts on paper before embarking on a formal search of a more thoughtful and sophisticated answer. I collect papers and read them to gather information about their starting point. I give papers back as soon as possible and ask students to keep this paper in their binder for future reference.

5 Closing and Next Steps - 2 minutes

I let students know that in the next several lessons, they will engage in the close reading of texts addressing the topic of Identity and that these texts will help them formulate their answer to the question they selected today.