Relationship Skills

#2 Family Resources on Good Questions, Part 2 (Thought Bubble Moment)

Project and Purpose

Students either act out a scene or draw a comic strip that applies one of the questions from Dean James Ryan’s 2016 Harvard Graduate School of Education commencement speech to a real life challenge.

Essential Questions

What is the power of a good question as part of a “thought bubble moment”?

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students analyzed their skills at asking meaningful questions of others. In class students discussed how they can learn more and honor others by asking thoughtful and consequential questions. In groups students used their work from Good Questions, Part 1 to write a skit or a cartoon to demonstrate their learning about asking good questions.

Getting Ready for the Conversation

Asking good questions is a useful skill in our personal and professional lives. This lesson expands Good Questions, Part 1. Students will have practiced asking and assessing questioning techniques.

Conversation notes:
Effective questioning is an important topic that is sometimes overlooked. Almost every job interview is a series of questions, every medical provider starts out asking questions, journalists and teachers must ask effective questions and the situations where effective questioning techniques are helpful is endless.

For more background on questioning techniques check out this article about journalist questioning – John Allen at Media Helping Media:

This article by Jackie Adams at Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineering focuses more on questioning techniques for presentations:

Constructive Conversation Starters

The first item is for follow-up after participating in class activities.

Tell us about one (or a few) really good skits or cartoons. Why did these resonate with you?

List several questions you have been asked in the last few days. Which ones were good questions? Why?

List several questions you have asked of others in the last few days. Which ones were good questions? Why?

What is the best advice you can offer regarding good questioning? Why?

In his speech James E. Ryan said, “Einstein famously said that if he had an hour to solve a problem, and his life depended on it, he would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask.” Why do you think Einstein said that?

School to Home Resources on Good Questions, Part 2



Note: This lesson could possibly extend over two class periods.

1. Explain that today’s session will continue the theme from the last session: asking good questions based on Dean James Ryan’s 2016 commencement speech to the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

2. Ask students where they have seen “thought bubbles.” They are used quite commonly in comics and cartoons to show the thought processes of certain characters. Because there usually is no narrator, it is a way for the authors to give us insight to the characters’ thoughts, ideas, and musings.

3. Distribute copies of the Five Questions worksheet. Review each of the five questions encouraging students to provide examples of a good time to ask each question (a teacher support page is provided to help you with ideas). Explain that these are the thought bubble questions of life.

4. Ask students: What would happen if they were in a situation where they could stop time, have a “thought bubble moment” to ask themselves a question, and then proceed. Is this a realistic possibility? Or just fantasy? Explain.

5. Have students return to their five discussion groups from the previous session and give each group one of the Five Question Scenarios. The group must:

  • Determine one or more of the five questions that would stop the motion and help the person/people involved in the scenario.
  • Create a life-sized thought bubble of at least one of the five questions from the list.
  • Write an ending for the scenario that stems from using the question
  • Choose one:
    • Act out the scenario, including a “thought bubble moment” and a plausible conclusion.
    • Draw a cartoon/comic strip of the scenario that includes a “thought bubble moment” and a plausible conclusion.

6. After giving each group time to prepare and finalize their projects, have each group do a presentation for the full group.


Ask students to discuss/write a brief response or exit ticket answering the essential question: What is the power of a good question as part of a “thought bubble moment”?

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