When we start to plan for active processing in the classroom we often begin by coming up with questions we want students to investigate or answer for themselves. We stay up late at night thinking about the perfect wording for an essential question, or peppering our lessons with prompts that engage students in discussion and debate.
Today’s “try this” strategy takes this burden off of you, the teacher, and puts it back on students where it belongs! Teach students to come up with their OWN questions.

We love this strategy from critical thinking guru Gary Meegan at Junipero Serra High School in California. Gary teaches his students a simple formula that helps them develop deep, complex questions to drive their own research and seminars. He calls it “CQEP” for short:
Context: What are you noticing? Write a short introductory paragraph.
Question: What question does the topic raise for you? State your question clearly.
Elaboration: How could you explain your question further? Explain your question in other words.
Purpose: What can be gained from answering this question? Explain what you hope to explore and why this question is important.
Teaching students to question helps cultivate curiosity and interest, promote original thinking and tasks that are personalized to each student, and push students to process in a way that helps them truly “own” the topic they’re studying.
What’s best is that this strategy works for all contents, all grade levels. What a great tool to have in your back pocket!
You can find a PowerPoint resource for teaching CQEP questions here. Happy questioning!