Thursday, April 20, 2017

Asking the right questions

Growing up, I had fond memories of watching the mystery show Columbo with my dad. We loved to see the disorganized and disheveled detective bumble his way through the show and always catch the murderer. As an adult, I had the wonderful opportunity to play the role made so famous by Peter Falk in the stage version of Prescription Murder. It was a dream come true to play Columbo on stage and I took pains to make sure my overcoat was properly wrinkled for every performance. If there is still any doubt of my level of fandom, my Saint Bernard is also named Columbo!

There were several techniques that the slovenly sleuth used to catch the criminals. One technique was to get them to underestimate him and his abilities. Another technique was to focus on small details or "loose ends" that would often elude other people. However, his most effective technique of all was his habit of relentlessly asking probing questions. His trademark line of "Oh, just one more thing..." was his way of persistently wearing the criminal down with a series of seemingly innocent questions. Through his continuous questioning, he was always able to piece together the murder and catch the guilty party.

As educators, we need to take a note from Columbo's book. No, we don't have to wear a wrinkled coat or smoke a cigar, but we do need to continuously ask probing questions of our students. We need to ask questions to find out their interests and dreams. We need to ask questions to find the depth of their knowledge and understanding. We need to ask questions to model the need for continuous growth and curiosity. Is this the right lesson for my students? Is this the best way to teach this lesson? Is this student understanding what is being taught? Dave Burgess talks a great deal about the importance of asking questions when planning lessons in his book, "Teach Like a Pirate". We need to start our lessons with questions and end with questions. If we can use the technique of continuous questioning, then like Columbo, we can find "just one more thing" to make our teaching better each and every day!

  • Bing Crosby was originally offered the role of Columbo. 
  • After two pilots, the first television episode of Columbo was directed by a young Steven Spielberg
  • William Shatner guest starred on the show twice (as two different killers)
  • Columbo's first name is never revealed in the show, nor is his wife's name. His basset hound is simply named "Dog". 
  • Peter Falk lost his right eye at the age of three to cancer and wore a glass eye his entire life. 


Sean Gaillard (The Inventor of Celebrate Monday!)


Monday, April 24: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 am
Tuesday, April 25: 2nd Grade Talking Zoo
                              LEA Negotiations 3:30 pm
                               YMAD Ceremony at Franklin High School 6:00-8:00 pm
Wednesday, April 26: REED (Benson) 8:20 am
                                  Administrative Professionals Day
Thursday, April 27: Staff Meeting 8:05 am
                                Training Day for the New Copiers
                               Schedule B Negotiations 4:00 pm
Saturday, April 29: Alena's Wedding!!

Monday, May 1: M-Step Testing Begins 
                           Student of the Month Assembly 9:05 am
Tuesday, May 2: Teacher Appreciation Day! 
Wednesday, May 3: REED (Bartnick) 8:20 am
                                Parent Meeting (Boggs) 3:15 am
                                District School Improvement Team 5:30-8:30 pm
Thursday, May 4: Staff Meeting 8:05 am
                            PTA Meeting (Board Elections) 6:30 pm
                            Jon out for sister's wedding
Friday, May 5: Kindergarten Round Up planning meeting 8:20 am
                        Paula Kohler in building for the entire morning
                        Jon out for sister's wedding

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