ICBL Strategy 4: Pose Specific Questions

Initial Publication Date: December 31, 2003

A productive way to generate questions is to ask students to use a chart listing what they know and what they need to know. If students are working in a group (recommended), this might be done as a group discussion. One student could record for the group while questions, facts and issues are raised. For a case like Goodbye Honeybuckets, 10-15 minutes of class time should suffice. A brief, whole class discussion of identified questions allows the instructor to assess prior knowledge and enables students to hear each others' ideas.

Closure on this strategy: The Know/Need to Know method usually leads to a long list of questions, and there will not be time to pursue them all. Ask each group to identify 3-5 key questions about which they feel it is essential to know more.

Student responses to the Know/Need to Know analysis for Goodbye Honeybuckets:

  • Alaska is cold.
  • There are long nights or long days depending on the season.
  • Sparsely populated.
  • Permafrost makes it difficult to dig.
  • There are reindeer in the tundra.
  • There is oil in northern Alaska.
  • Sewage treatment systems are common in the "lower 48."
  • Different sewage treatment systems exist, such as lagoons, outhouses, septic tanks, city sewers.

Need to Know:
  • How do honeybuckets work (emptying, storage, recycling)?
  • What is the environmental impact of current system?
  • Why isn't there a municipal sewage treatment system in the village?
  • What is a tribal council? How does it work?
  • What is the tundra? Where is it? What lives there? How long is winter?
  • What are the seasons like in Alaska (e.g., temperature differences, precipitation, sunlight, wind)?
  • What is the soil chemistry and composition?
  • What is permafrost, really? How does it affect sewage treatment?
  • What are the problems of construction in the arctic?
  • How can the tundra be hurt (appropriateness and safety of construction methods)?

Selected key questions for Goodbye Honeybuckets:

  • What are the major limiting factors due to tundra climate and soils and why?
  • What are the feasible sewage treatment methods and why?
  • Are there other considerations for successful construction in the arctic we should be considering and why?