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What is “What’s Going on Here?” (#WGOH)

13 Apr

WGOH is a short-hand term for a way of presenting content to students. It’s based on compelling images and perplexing questions.

You present a compelling image or series of images to students. And ask them, “What’s going on here?” Its a simple set-up, but it can get a foothold into a student’s curiosity. Seeing the images below, what questions would you want to ask next?

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I latched on to “What’s Going on Here?” as a guiding question, because it can branch off in so many different directions. There are so many questions implied within it. They could be “Who are those kids?” “Who took this picture?” “What’s he doing?” “Where did the city go?” “Why do those people seem so happy?” “What are they yelling about?” “Why are they being arrested?” What those questions are depend on what you see in front of you.(1)

The idea is to present students with images that will perplex them, sparking curiosity and compelling them to ask questions and go in search of answers. Something Dan Meyer said once really hits the nail on the head. He said:

. . . perplexity is not the same thing as confusion. It’s more like confusion with a full tank of gas, and a road map, and the will to get there.” source

So, what is WGOH? It’s an idea I had about a way we can inspire perplexity in our students’ lives.

That, at least, is my two cents. I’d be interested to hear what you have to say.

(1) It’s like real life. When analyzing a situation, we don’t go through the exact same set of cognitive steps every time. How we “figure it out” depends on the context of what we see in front of us.

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