As I continue to think about teaching information fluency skills several things keep coming back to me. Really fundamental to the whole process of research is that very first step: asking questions.
In working through KWL charts and other tasks I found that our students really didn't know how to ask questions. Many of them weren't comfortable with asking questions and even less so with the grammatical structure necessary to be successful questioners. Even some of our most inquisitive students were not able to consistantly ask grammatically correct questions. When you consider that English is not the first language for some of our students, unlocking the mechanics of question making is a considerable, yet very valuable, undertaking.
Having rolled these thoughts over in my mind, I decided to make question asking central to the mission of our library. To this end I designed and created this quilt last summer. The finishing touches weren't completed until November.
Each day I see the quilt hanging in the library and it inspires me all over again. I like question asking to be encouraged in our library. For this reason I try never to disrespect questions our students ask - even ones which make me squirm. Students often ask questions like "How old are you?" or "What's that mark on your face?" or (my favorite) "What happened to your hair?" After saying that as the librarian I like to encourage questions of all sorts, I explain that some adults will think it is rude for children to ask those questions. It's funny that adults often ask these same questions of children. Sometimes we answer the questions, sometimes we talk about how to find the answer. I always want them to feel free to ask questions. It's how we begin our journey.