Asking BIG Questions

Asking students a “Big Question” (see below for examples), can lead to a motivating, collaborative and student-centred lesson where students work together to find answers. This is part of a methodology called Self-Organised Learning Environment (SOLE).

From SOLE Toolkit, shared under CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 License. https://www.theschoolinthecloud.org

Items and other considerations needed for SOLE
● A computer or tablet for each group of 3-5 students
● Computers must be connected to RACHEL or the internet
● Paper or notebook and pen or pencil to take notes
● Students should be able to read and share information
● Time may vary from one to two class periods depending on the question

Steps for a SOLE session in the classroom
1.  Start with a story: tell a short story that gives the background to why you are asking the big question.

2. The Big Question: A question is presented according to the school’s content or to the community, one that will raise interest and curiosity in children. This is an important task and therefore a good question should be chosen.

3. Form groups: Students form groups composed of three, four or five members. The spirit behind forming groups or teams is to generate, collaborate, share, and build knowledge. In each of the groups, it is important that members get organized. The participation of all groups should be encouraged and facilitated by a student coordinator chosen on a classroom level.

4. Investigation: Groups investigate using the content on this site, on the internet or other a device such as RACHEL, content and information related to the Big Question. Members of each group have the freedom to change groups, talk to other groups, and observe each other’s work.

5. Building an answer: Participants build an answer based on their research. They can present their findings in drawings, diagrams, mind maps, or other ways. They can also rehearse their presentation.

6. Presentation: Groups present or exhibit what they learned to their classmates. Invite them to share their learnings with the other groups.

For more detailed instructions and samples on using the SOLE methodology, read these resources:

SOLE Guide_World Possible

SOLE Toolkit


Images from SOLE Toolkit, shared under CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 License, from

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