Teacher Tap


What is the question I’m trying to answer, the problem I’d liked to solve, or the key issue I need to resolve?

The introduction of graphics can lead to interesting questions. For instance, we can view microscopic images of snowflakes at Snowflake from Electron Microscopy Unit of USD.

bugAsk yourself, "how do I encourage students to ask deep questions rather than surface level questions?"

Generate a list of questions about Egyptian mummies. Then, look at photographs from Wikimedia Commons and refine the questions. What's the impact of the visuals on your ability to generate questions? Do the inspire any new questions? How could audio, video, or animation be used in another situation?


Many different types of graphics can draw interest and generate questions. A few examples are below:

bugContrast dueling images such as an animal in a cage and in the wild.
How could sets of images be used to encourage different perspectives?


The web is filled with short video and audio clips to stimulation questioning. Audio can stimulate interest in visuals. Begin by exploring 100 Best YouTube Videos for Science Teachers. Find examples below:

bugUse video to stimulate questions. Watch the book trailer for Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart on YouTube or watch the book trailer for Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart on YouTube. As you watch, brainstorm a list of questions you have about the facts presented in the video. Locate the section of the book that discussed this aspect, then go on a fact-finding mission.

wickedAsk students to generate questions about what they see and hear in the book trailer.

Check out the resources for the Wicked Bugs website for lots of links and information about insects in addition to what is found in the book.


The US Government website science.gov provides many articles, databases, and direct links to visual resources.


An increasing number of websites provide interactives and games to stimulate interest in science topics. For instance, the Nobel websites contains a game called Immune Responses. Find a few examples below:

Visual Storytelling

Sugaring TimeVisual stories such as Sugaring Time by Kathryn Lasky are also an effective way to jumpstart an inquiry. Consider the Scientists in the Field series.

Scientists in the Field

Use text-based stories to stimulate image needs and interests.

Emperor of All MaladiesPoxGuns Germs and SteelThe Great Influenza

Explore news photos, cover stories, and front pages that could be used to generate questions or practice the process of questioning. Go to Newseum and Yahoo Photos for examples

bugWhat books are you reading?
What journals and blogs are you reading?
Brainstorm books and articles that jumpstart questioning related to a particular curriculum-related topic.

Facilitate Inquiry

Q TasksIn Q Tasks Carol Koechlin and Sandi Zwaan provide questions to get students and teachers thinking about their questions and information to deepen the investigation.

Use guiding questions to facilitate inquiry:

bugSelect a topic of interest such as nocturnal adapations.
Collect a set of photographs.
Use the questions above to deepen an investigation.

Questioning and Technology

Use technology to inspire thinking:

bugTry It
Ask yourself, "how do I encourage students to ask deep questions rather than surface level questions?"

Starter examples:
Video - The Majestic Plastic Bag
Images - Turtle deformed by being trapped in a six-pack plastic ring
Comic - Deadly Dilemma of the 6 Pack Rings.

Generate a list of questions about a topic. Then, explore images, videos, audio, statistics, or text. Refine the questions. What's the impact of the visuals or audio on your ability to generate questions?

For a more in-depth exploration, read the graphic book Graphic Inquiry by Annette Lamb and Danny Callison available from Libraries Unlimited, 2011.

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