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I am a social studies teacher that would like to develop ethnographic questions in my Social Studies classes. I work with high school students that are predominately Somali. I would like to learn more about developing relevant ethnographic questions for my classes.

      Thank you for your interesting and very significant question. We would suggest considering an approach where your students are involved both in forming the questions, and also in answering them.
       More specifically, after providing some definition of what you mean by an ethnographic question, you could ask your students to formulate questions of particular interest to them. This could first be done individually, following which the students could share their questions with the class; or it could be done first by the class as a whole, if that seems more appropriate.
      After initial formulation and presentation of questions, the class could then vote on those questions it would most like to pursue.  For example, you could perhaps pursue the top 3-5 vote-getters, though the exact number could vary.
      Then, after the top-ranked questions are selected, you could divide the class into smaller groups, with each group choosing one of the top-ranked questions to work on.  After several weeks of in-class and/or out-of-class investigation, your students could then make their reports in class, including their responses to that question; that could be followed by class discussion. You could of course vary any of the specifics of this procedure to best fit the particular nature of your class.
       (As a side point and brief digression, one question that could be asked might have to do with acceptance of Somalis and Somali culture by the larger White population, an issue I noticed personally on a visit to Pelican Rapids, a small town of about 3000 in the western part of the state.)  
      And as an additional feature, you could bring guests to class to speak to some of the student questions raised – or the students could seek out and recruit the guests themselves.  For example, you or (better) they might invite Rep. Omar to your class during a future home visit (why not aim for the top?).
       We hope that some of these thoughts might help stimulate of your own thinking.  Thanks again for writing to us, and all best wishes for a wonderfully exciting and fulfilling school year ahead!    

Question Date: Wed, 08/24/2022