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Living the Questions  

A Guide for Teacher-Researchers


by Ruth Shagoury and Brenda Miller Power, Stenhouse Publishers, Portland, Maine, 2012, 290 pp. with index, $28.50 softcover

Each day in our schools, research happens. Teachers and administrators question how, why and when, then observe, think, discuss and make changes. As educators, we are surrounded by questions, whether spoken out loud, written or just in our minds.

In Living the Questions: A Guide for Teacher-Researchers (2nd edition), authors Ruth Shagoury and Brenda Miller Power suggest that the questions teachers ask themselves about their students and their instruction can change teachers, students and the classrooms where they live each day when teachers engage in deliberate teacher-research.

The authors discuss the why and how of teacher-research questions — the drilling down that produces the best questions and the richest answers. Other facets of teacher research, including teacher-research groups and their value, the process of writing about your research and the use of technology (blogging, communication and how technology can enhance teacher-research) add to the value of this book.

The book’s appendix is filled with teacher-research designs that can serve as models. Quotations from writers, educators and teacher-researchers help to expand the reader’s thinking.

Each chapter contains a research “workshop” that gives practical, hands-on advice for using the methods presented in the chapter. Teacher-researchers and their work also are featured at the end of each chapter, giving the reader a glimpse into the world of the teacher-researcher, including the a-ha moments, the celebrations and even some despairing situations.

This book is well-written, engaging and full of practical ideas for conducting teacher-research. Yet it is more than that. It is a trek into the world of education and into the many “wonderings” educators have each day they spend with students. The authors claim, “Every teacher has wonderings worth pursuing.”

This book will serve as a guide to help you find your questions, learn from those questions and eventually to “live the questions.”

Reviewed by Vickey M. Giles, superintendent, Sheldon Independent School District, Houston, Texas


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