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Beautiful Questions in the Classroom

Beautiful Questions in the Classroom
Transforming Classrooms Into Cultures of Curiosity and Inquiry

First Edition

Foreword by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana, The Right Question Institute

April 2020 | 208 pages | Corwin

 "What does it mean to learn? Most of us eventually realize that genuine learning is less about delivering the right answers and more about asking the right questions. In an age of automation, questioning is a uniquely human skill, one we should foster in school and in life. This book is an essential read for educators at every level.”

      Daniel H. Pink, author of ‘WHEN’, ‘DRIVE’, and ‘A Whole New Mind’

“For teachers around the world there is a moral urgency to work with young learners in innovative ways that nurture agency, curiosity, agile thinking and problem solving. The role of questions in this cannot be underestimated.”

      Kath Murdoch. Consultant in Education and Author of ‘The Power of Inquiry.’

Why does engagement plummet as learners advance in school? Why does the stream of questions from curious toddlers slow to a trickle as they become teenagers? Most importantly, what can teachers and schools do to reverse this trend? Beautiful Questions in the Classroom has the answers. This inspirational book from Warren Berger and Elise Foster will help educators transform their classrooms into cultures of curiosity. The book explores the importance of questioning and how inquiry leads to learning, innovation, and personal growth.

 Readers will find:
- Strategies to inspire bigger, more beautiful student questions
- Techniques to help educators ask more beautiful questions
- Real-world examples, case studies, practical ideas, and question stems
- Videos showing strategies at work

Great teachers help students to ask bigger, more beautiful questions. This book will prepare and inspire educators to develop a powerful teaching approach that creates a classroom full of student driven inquiry.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments
About the Authors
Chapter 1. Why Questioning Matters Now More Than Ever
What This Means for Students and Their Teachers

Critical Thinking Is Even More Critical Now

Questions Give Humans an Edge Over Technology

Producing Future Leaders

Chapter 2. What Discourages Student Questioning?
The Decline of Kids’ Questions

The Five Enemies of Classroom Questioning

Chapter 3. Model the Behavior
Become a “Beautiful Questioner”

Start With Why

Become a Student of Your Own Work

Adopt a “Beginner’s Mind”

Be Curious in the Classroom

Chapter 4. Create a Culture of Inquiry in the Classroom
Foster an Appreciation of Questioning

Create a Stimulating Environment for Questioning

Make It Safe to Question

Make Questioning a Team Sport

Provide a Basic Questioning “Starter Kit”

Reward and Celebrate Questioning

Chapter 5. Inspire and Activate Student Questions
Provoke Curiosity

See Think Wonder

Release the Questions!

The Question Formulation Technique

The Origins of the QFT

Learning to Use the QFT in Classrooms

The Question Focus

The Question Generation Stage

Chapter 6. Help Students Improve and Take Ownership of Their Questions
Improve the Questions That Have Been Generated

Other Ways to Improve Questions

Evaluate and Prioritize Questions

Reflect on What Has Been Learned

Take Ownership of Questions

Turn Questions Into Projects

Help Students Find Their Own, Personal Big Beautiful Questions

Chapter 7. Be a Questioning Leader (in Your School, Community, and the World)
Ask Questions That Clarify

Ask Questions That Help You Rethink and Reinvent

Ask Questions That Help You Help Others

Ask Questions That Can Help You Enact Change

Taking Action


What does it mean to learn? Most of us eventually realize that genuine learning is less about delivering the right answers and more about asking the right questions. That’s why BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS IN THE CLASSROOM is so important. Inquiry develops self-direction and deepens curiosity. And in an age of automation, questioning is a uniquely human skill, one we should foster in school and in life. This book is an essential read for educators at every level.

Daniel H. Pink, Author or When, Drive, and A Whole New Mind

Warren Berger and Elise Foster maintain that the more questions children ask, the better questioners (and ultimately innovators) they become. This inspirational and highly practical book focuses on the why and how of creating “cultures of curiosity and inquiry” in our classrooms, where students (not teachers!) are the ones asking the questions, living the learning, making a difference for themselves, each other and the world.

Debbie Miller, Author of What's the Best That Could Happen? New Possibilities for Teachers & Readers

In this book, the "questionologist" Warren Berger and co-author Elise Foster show us why it's so critical to encourage more student questions in class, particularly in today's world. But they  also show how to do that, with practical examples, exercises, and activities. The result is an inspirational call to action for educators everywhere.

Trevor Mackenzie, Author of Inquiry Mindset

Warren Berger and Elise Foster’s new book is a vibrant restorative effort, seeking to help us all recover the flood of questions typical of our 4 year-old neighbors. They ask us to think about the debilitating effects on our civic affairs and worklives of the mere trickle of questions asked by those same once curious explorers when they reach high school. The book documents and lays out in crisp, clear prose hopeful interventions that give us confidence that a revolutionary embrace of questioning is within our reach.

Neil Browne, Author of Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking

I celebrate the teacher who keeps the spark of curiosity alive in their classroom. And to be the change you want to see? No easy thing. Berger is a master "questionologist" and this book is an essential tool.

Michael Bungay Stanier, Author of The Coaching Habit and The Advice Trap

Warren Berger has already shown us brilliantly how questions can indeed ‘change the world’. In this book, Berger and Elise Foster provide schools and educators concrete ways to make questions and questioning an essential part of the learning experiences we design every day. In doing so, they offer us simple and elegant ways to change what we do as teachers, administrators, and students thereby improving our schools in fundamental ways.

Dominic A.A. Randolph, Head of School
Riverdale Country School

With engaging prose and compelling insights, Berger and Foster unravel the vexing puzzle of why our kids, who are born curious, grow less curious with each passing year they sit in our classrooms and schools. We know, of course, that curiosity drives all learning—and that at the heart of curiosity is questions. Yet as Berger and Foster demonstrate, the most important questions in the classroom aren’t teachers’ questions, but rather, students’ questions. With its many practical classroom examples and go-to strategies, I’d recommend all teachers have this book on their shelves—so they can return to it time and again to unleash their own curiosity and that of their students.

Bryan Goodwin, President and CEO, McREL International
Author, Building a Curious School: Restore the Joy that Brought You to School and Unstuck: How Curiosity, Peer Coaching, and Teaming Can Change Your School

Who better than a journalist to guide us on the power of asking questions? Berger and Foster pull in expert testimony from various fields to share concrete ways we can help students of all ages lean in to their curiosity through inquiry. This book is not only brimming with evidence-based practices but is beautifully-written and thoughtfully designed for the busy educator. This is my new ‘go to’ book for guiding students as questioners!

Kimberly L. Mitchell, Founder, Inquiry Partners
Author, Experience Inquiry: 5 Powerful Strategies, 50 Practical Experiences
Seattle, WA

The title of this brilliant book says it all. By the time you’ve finished it, you will understand why questioning is so critical in unleashing curiosity and inquiry - and you will have a rich toolkit to help you get there! This is a must read for those seeking to help young minds make sense of an increasingly complex world - by encouraging - and teaching them - to question.

Peter Gamwell, Author, The Wonder Wall
Ottawa, ON, Canada

This book, this work, found me at a critical time in my career. I have long sought better ways to engage my kids in their learning. And I believe, now, I have found my next better in this book, a beautiful better that will transform me, my classroom, and ultimately my kids as they pursue their questions, their answers, their learning.

Monte Syrie, Teacher
Cheney High School
Cheney, WA

Warren Berger

Warren Berger is the creator of the popular website and author of The Book of Beautiful Questions: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead (Bloomsbury, 2018) and A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas (Bloomsbury, 2014)—all focusing on the power of inquiry to improve your daily life.Before focusing on questioning, Warren wrote the internationally acclaimed Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Business and Your Life (Penguin Press, 2009), published in several editions worldwide. Business Week named Glimmer one of the “Best Innovation &... More About Author

Elise Foster

Elise Foster is a leadership coach who enables education and industry leaders to tap into capability and unlock potential inside their organizations. She has conducted significant research in the field of leadership within education systems and is coauthor of The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools. She has a deep passion for helping leaders become better equipped to navigate the increasingly complex demands of work and life. She works with leaders to make lasting change, by uncovering and making sense of the underlying beliefs preventing them from fully realizing their personal leadership vision. She has found that... More About Author

Also available as a South Asia Edition.

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ISBN: 9781544365466

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