Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Essential Questions

Here are some thoughts about Essential Questions...

"Good essential questions are open-ended, non-judgmental, meaningful and purposeful with emotive force and intellectual bite, and invite an exploration of ideas. They encourage collaboration amongst students, teachers, and the community. They integrate technology to support the learning process."

"Wiggins and McTighe state that essential questions are arguable; there is no single answer. These type of questions require the students "to ‘uncover’ ideas, problems, controversies, philosophical positions, or perspectives."

Find more information at the link below...
http://www.ocmboces.org/tfiles/folder1682/OHS_EssentialQuestions.pdf

All Essential Questions lead to Subsidiary (Key) Questions
Subsidiary Questions also known as Key questions …
• Are smaller questions which help respond to the essential question
• Provide the facts used to respond to the essential question
• Are written as “what,” “when,” “who” questions
• Drive a project
• Allow for data collection
• Supply new information for further questioning
http://tech.hcesc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Essential_Questions_Defined.pdf

Something important to remember about essential questions is that you must understand the word essential...in other words, 5 questions are too many and the creator doesn't understand the true meaning of essential. 1 to 2 is a good practice.

Here is an excellent link to a blog by Grant Wiggins about essential questions...

http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/an-excerpt-from-our-just-released-book-on-essential-questions/

An excerpt from his blog entry...
The importance of thinking explicitly about a culture in support of inquiry comes from the fact that a focus on essential questions establishes new rules for the “school game.” For the majority of learners, school is a place where the teacher has the “answers” and classroom questions are directed for the purpose of finding out who knows it. Ironically, many teachers signal that this is the game even when they don’t intend to communicate it; e.g., by only posing questions that elicit a “yes-no” or single “right” answer; by only calling on students with raised hands; and by answering their own questions after a brief pause.

The point is this. Your units should be driven by essential questions so that you create more engaging lessons that are focused on learning for understanding not memorizing for a test. 

Practice and develop your essential questions. They should be based upon your content area standards. Tell them to the students, don't hide them. Post them at the front of the room. Use kid friendly language. They should know what you are trying to do. Remind them daily about the essential questions and the key questions. 

Most  of all use them.

Drive on!