Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Slice of Life- Maybe Another Couple of Things...

Tuesdays are for slicing about life. Join us at Two Writing Teachers!

I was in the middle of teaching a lesson to a fourth-grade class when my phone rang. I had told the teacher that might happen. That I was expecting a call. That I'd have to take it. But really...did that doctor's office have to call right in the middle of the minilesson? 

Fortunately, the students had a longer-than-usual active engagement, and their teacher took over with nudging and encouraging as they noticed and noted three examples of opinion introductions. 

"Your culture was negative," the young sounding voice that belonged to Sarah said. "You should stop taking the antibiotic."

"But it made me better," I said. "Right away. How do we explain that?"

"I don't know," she said, "but the direction is to stop taking it."

I asked her to hold on for just a moment, explaining where I was and what I was doing. Then I gave the class another direction and explained my confusion again with a few additional details about the situation. Sarah just repeated the directions. I didn't have much time left without needing to pull students back together, and I still had my questions, so I asked that the doctor call me later. Sarah agreed. Later, after the lesson, I thought of other ways I could have handled the situation, other questions I could have asked, other strategies I could have taken that would have given me more immediate answers as opposed to a day of waiting and wondering whether the doctor would call me back and if I should still plan on tests the next morning. (She did and I should.)

Because I slice and because I teach, and maybe because I had some awake time last night and extra time this morning, I am thinking about students and instruction. We use the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) in places in our curriculum, and that strategy was created to help people advocate for themselves at places like doctor's office. What questions should we ask? What answers are we looking for? What research do we need to do in order to ask better questions and be a more informed patient/client/consumer? And when or how do we teach students to question authority? As it turned out, going off the antibiotic was NOT the final decision, but if I hadn't been somewhat non-compliant, then I think I would have just thanked her and thrown away the remaining pills. 

I know, I know... we have so much to teach students, so much to fit into our curriculum, so many initiatives. But I'm wondering---

Happy Slicing,


  1. I am not familiar with QFT, but it makes me realize that I need to look into this! Like you, I think QFT could go beyond the classroom!

    Glad to know that you are feeling better!

  2. I never thought of QFT in terms of advocating for ourselves but it makes me like the strategy so much more! I hope you are well. :) Glad you advocated for yourself.

  3. I love how you connected a moment in your life regarding questioning to teaching questioning to students. So much of this is about advocating for ourselves. I think teaching critical literacy is one way to get students to question authority (in this case, the text/ author can seem like the authority figure). I also think of ways we can help grow students' confidence. That is what we need to follow our instincts and question what we are told.