You ask the questions

The problem being addressed in this technique


It is important to engage students right from the beginning of a new topic. A brilliant way to do this is through the use of intrigue or curiosity. Teachers use a series of images (or video) as stimuli and ask students to ask questions about them. The questions are then turned into objectives or learning intentions by the teacher using the phrase 'By the end of this lesson you will be able to answer the following questions... e.g. who Was Rosa Parks and why is she important in U.S. history?'


Principle 1

“Great teachers share and clarify the learning intentions of the lesson(s) so that students are engaged, understand, and can picture their goals.”


The technique (strategy 2 of 10 in the chapter)

This strategy will result in a list of key questions as in strategy 1. However, the difference here is that the questions are generated by the learners. This works well using visual stimuli.


Visual stimulus. The teacher displays a series of images (or video) on the subject matter without explanation – a musical accompaniment can sometimes enhance the experience. For example, in my training work, there are two I regularly use. For secondary schools I show a PowerPoint of 12 images related to the Civil Rights movement in the U.S.: e.g., Rosa Parks on the bus; the marches; the Ku Klux Klan; segregation in restaurants; Little Rock High School; Martin Luther King’s Washington speech; the balcony where King was assassinated and so on… The music is Marvin Gaye’s version of the fabulous song “Abraham, Martin and John”. The learners are simply asked to watch the presentation and think of questions provoked by the images. They are then given a few minutes in groups, and then each group in turn is required to share one of its questions, e.g. ‘Why is that boy using a devil sign behind the head of that black girl?’ (famous photograph from Little Rock High School, the ending of segregation in schools). The teacher or scribe records each question on the whiteboard or a flipchart. When all the questions are shared, the teacher selects key questions and turns them into the learning intentions using the layout in strategy 1.


With primary schools in the U.K. I use a PowerPoint with 20 images of Victorian life accompanied by “Memories of the Victorian Age” by Adam and Rick Wakeman. (U.S. teachers will choose a different example). The same process is used. It is straightforward to apply the same strategy in other curriculum areas and for a wide range of ages:

  • Developing curiosity and intrigue in science through photographs, images, or video

  • A timeline with annotations in history or humanities

  • The design (make and do) process through illustrations, e.g. healthy eating, hair and beauty

  • A family tree in a foreign language.

  • Teachers’ ingenuity will come to the fore here and many other examples using visual stimuli could be listed.

The final questions, now presented as learning intentions, can be answered by formal teacher instruction or as small group investigations as the teacher chooses. Both will work.

To get all the 10 techniques in Chapter 1, Principle 1 go to here

To get all 157 techniques for all 7 principles go here

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