Three Before Me! Technology resources to help your students answer their own questions

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We make more than 3.3 billion Google searches per DAY, up 30% from 2006, just ten short years ago. 

While there is debate regarding whether this is a good or a bad thing, one thing is for sure: there are plenty of ways for students to figure out the answers on their own! 

So why do students keep asking us for the answers rather than trying to figure them out on their own? It’s simple – that is what they have been doing their entire educational career thus far, and it has worked out pretty darn well. Minimal effort must be exerted when the teacher simply supplies the answer, so why bother to try?

To promote leadership, curiosity, and self-sufficiency it is vital that we as teachers stop giving students the answers. I have worked with students throughout the grade spectrum, from pre-kindergarten to college. Regardless of their age, kindergarteners and college students alike typically default to asking for answers from the teacher when faced with a difficult or complex task. In fact, the older they get, the worse it gets! A strategy that has worked well for me across all age groups (as well as many other educators) is the classic ‘three before me’. Simply put, students must try to answer their question in three different ways before asking the teacher for help. Potential resources include peers, the Internet, books, and a vast array of other helpers. 

Using this approach, students are forced to think for themselves. They identify their own question and seek their own answer – with minimal help and support from the teacher. Knowledge and information are becoming ubiquitous. Thus is it is essential that we provide our students with the tools they need to become self-sufficient and navigate through the mounds of existing information to find answers to their own questions. In doing so, we will be supporting the development of 21st century skills, particularly as it relates to information, media, and technology skills.

A wide array of technology options exist as you work to encourage students to answer their own questions. Here is a list of engaging, free open educational resources that can serve as one of the ‘three before me’ to help your students in this process.

Do you have a favorite technology resource to help your students answer their own questions? Share it by leaving us a comment below!

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