5. The Five Minute Question(K-12)
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Some questions deserve 10 seconds of thought. Others require days or even months. Great questions span centuries of human civilization (i.e., "why are we here?" "How do we know?" "Can we know?" "How can we know if we know?").
Research into wait-time for classrooms paints a distressing picture. Many teachers wait less than two seconds for the answer to each question and ask hundreds of questions per hour. These types of questions are generally recall questions demanding little thought.
Label thinking questions by telling a class that a particular question is a one minute or a five minute or a ten minute question. Let them struggle with some of the multi-century questions. Ask them what their minds do when they tackle such questions. Refuse to call on students while they are meant to be thinking. Encourage students to jot down ideas while they are thinking about questions. Encourage them to list other questions that may help answer the original question. Show them how one question may be the grandparent of any other questions. When the time period is over, have them draw pictures of how their minds jumped and moved and considered. Break down the thinking into its elements and show how the process works. Do not allow students to answer profound questions "off the tops of their heads". What do we mean by that expression? If we don't answer from the top, where do we answer from? Show them the structure of thought that should underlie an informed conclusion to a demanding question. Work through the supporting arguments on the chalkboard so they can see that the main idea is supported by a framework of other thoughts. Use metaphors such as tree trunks and roots to help students visualize an otherwise complex process.
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