The question box has been a staple of classrooms for years as a way to get students started to ask questions that spark learning. And it has curiously survived the emergence of search engines.
Blogger and teacher Lizanne Foster gives us some insight as to why in her article from Huffington Post Cardboard Question Box Beats Google Search Box Any Day. “Turns out, teens are not impressed with that instantaneous delivery of piles of content." She goes on to explain why her students weren't interested in using search engines "They wanted to have a conversation, to be able to ask questions about what they were reading, and what it actually meant for them, in their own lives". This insight led Lizanne to finally understand "why the Question Box is the most popular of my teaching tools."
Offline solutions can make a big impact in classrooms. Not everything has to be done digitally, nor should it. For classrooms that have invested in building a culture of inquiry and psychological safety, Wonder Walls are a great example.
Why the Question Box Needs to Be Retired
Just because search engines aren't ideal for learning doesn't mean that a low tech, offline solution is the answer. Particularly for classes that have not built a culture of inquiry. How can you get started leading learning and class dialogue with student questions when the first step is to put them in a box? It signals to students that questions are inconvenient to ask, fixed and rarely discussed. Plus the box is the literal symbol of a lack of creativity and open mindedness. The actual experience for students of using a question box is in such stark contrast to how our modern world works, that it creates as many problems as it solves.
The box is the literal symbol of a lack of creativity and open mindedness.
Its Time to Get Outside the Box
To get started building a culture of inquiry, teachers need to find a way resist the factors that act to erode it. This takes work and persistence. One way to make this easier is to invest in a building a space for inquiry outside of the classroom. Specifically, in a software platform designed to help you do this. Like a virtual question box, but without the limitations. This has the practical value of taking this dialogue outside the four walls of your classroom and make it available to students anytime. But it can also give you a fresh start to build a new culture and provide you with tools that help you get started.
Like a virtual question box, but without the limitations.
Recap is a free Q&A platform where questions go to flourish. It comes with a question gathering queue that helps you privately collect, give feedback on, share and drive dialogue from student questions. It also has tools to help you ignite curiosity and assess students that help you overcome anyone's apathy to learn.