Creating Great Essential Questions Shameicha Wade Curriculum Specialist
Essential Questions "Given the amount of time we have to spend on this particular unit of study, what is the essence....what is essential for the learners in my care to explore?" Heidi Jacobs- Hayes
Definition of an Essential QuestionA good essential question is the first step when designing inquiry-based learning • Questions that probe for deeper meaning and set the stage for further questioning foster the development of critical thinking skills and higher order capabilities such as; problem solving, and the understanding of complex systems. A good essential question is the principle component of designing inquiry-based learning – the typical 'Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?' of a course of study.
What Constitutes A Good Essential Question? • The best essential questions center on major issues, problems, concerns, interests, or themes relevant to students’ lives and to their communities.
“The Ability To Ask Great Questions Often Is What Separates Great Teachers from Good Teachers. Essential Questions are Powerful”
What Should Students Learn • Essential questions in the form of questions. Questions suggest inquiry. • Essential questions are organizers and set the focus for the lesson or unit. • Essential questions are initiators of creative and critical thinking. • Essential questions are conceptual commitments focusing on key components in the curriculum.
Criteria • Each student should be able to understand the essential question(s). • The language of the questions should be in broad terms. • There should be a logical sequence to a set of essential questions. • Essential questions should be posted in the classroom.
Writing • What is your teaching objective? • Write the objective as a question. • Do you need smaller key questions? • Rewrite if necessary to make sure learners understand the question(s).
How Do Essential Questions Help Teachers? They help teachers focus on important topics in their year-long curriculum and bring meaning across subject areas: • They raise important questions across content areas (Math, Science, Literature, History, etc.). • They center around major issues, problems, concerns, interests, or themes that also occur in other units.
How Do Essential Questions Help Students? • They engage students’ imagination and connect the subject with their own experiences and ideas. They help to engage students: • There is no one, obvious “right” answer, so students are challenged to explore many possibilities. • They encourage in-depth discussion and research, and set the stage for further questioning.
Why Essential Questions? Olympics How have the Olympic Games Influenced both society and The individual? How have both society and the Individual influenced the Olympic Games? FACT FACT FACT FACT FACT FACT
Without Essential Questions… Olympics FACT FACT FACT FACT FACT FACT
Teaching the Essential Question • Teach students the essential questions before you begin the unit • Essential Questions are like “Mental Velcro” • Students should focus on any & all information that “sticks” to the essential question • Always POST your Essential Questions
Lets Create • Activity 2