Essential Questions CEI - Colorado Education Initiative The

Report
Professional Development
Writing Essential Questions
for Rigorous Learning
Using Essential Questions in the LDC Template Tasks
Literacy Design Collaborative
What is an Essential Question?
Grant Wiggins
“An essential question is…well, essential: important, vital,
at the heart of the matter-the essence of the issue. It is a
question that any thoughtful and intellectually-alive person
ponders and should keep pondering.”
Understanding by Design
Grant Wiggins
The term “essential” refers to what is needed for the
learning of core content. A question is essential when it
helps students make sense of important but complicated
ideas, knowledge, and know-how.
When is a Question Essential?
Grant Wiggins
• When it causes relevant inquiry into big ideas and core
content
• When it provokes deep thought, lively discussion,
sustained inquiry, and new understandings as well as
more questions
• When it requires students to consider alternatives
When is a Question Essential?
Grant Wiggins
• When it stimulates vital, on-going rethinking of big ideas,
assumptions, and prior lessons
• When it sparks meaningful connections with prior
learning and personal experience
• When it creates opportunities for transfer to other
situations and subjects
Examples Offered by Grant Wiggins
• How well can fiction reveal truth?
• Why did one particular species/culture/person thrive and
another one barely survived or died?
• How does what we measure influence how we measure?
• How does how we measure influence what we
measure?
• Is there really a difference between a cultural
generalization and a stereotype?
Teacher Definition of Essential
Question Authentic Education Website
“An essential question is when a teacher opens a whole new world to
the students. It leads to a higher order of thinking by pulling out content
knowledge, connecting the knowledge to the topic at hand and seeing
how one can improve. In the common core classes, the summative
assessment is usually the final assessment on student outcomes.
However, in CTE classes, students have the opportunity to evaluate
their projects and think of ways they can improve those projects, it is
always an ongoing process.”
Posted by: Joyce Miyamoto on June 29, 2011
LDC Uses Essential Questions to Begin
Half of the Template Tasks
Beginning a template task with a compelling, open-ended
question is the starting point for a rigorous teaching task.
Essential Question:
Argumentation/Analysis Modules
• Task 2 ELA Example: Would you recommend A Wrinkle in Time
to a middle school reader? After reading this science fiction novel,
write a review that addresses the question and support your position
with evidence from the text.
• Task 2 Social Studies Example: How did the political views of the
signers of the Constitution impact the American political
system? After reading Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary
Generation, write a report that addresses the question and support
your position with evidence from the text.
Essential Question:
Argumentation/Analysis Modules
Task 2 Science Example: Does genetic testing have the
potential to significantly impact how we treat disease? After
reading scientific sources, write a report that addresses the
question and support your position with evidence from the texts.
L2 Be sure to acknowledge competing views. L3 Give examples
from past or current events or issues to illustrate and clarify your
position.
Essential Question: Economics
Task 2. SS Argumentation/Analysis L1, 2
[Insert question] After reading ______ (literature or informational texts),
write _______ (essay or substitute) that addresses the question and
support your position with evidence from the text(s). L2 Be sure to
acknowledge competing views. L3 Give examples from past or current
events or issues to illustrate and clarify your position.
Teaching task
What combination of market and command systems do you
believe creates an ideal mixed economy? After reading informational
and opinion texts, write an essay that addresses the question and
support your position with evidence from the texts. Be sure to
acknowledge competing views.
Essential Question: Social Studies
Argumentation/Analysis L1, 2, 3
[Insert question] After reading ________ (literature or informational texts), write
_______ (essay or substitute) that addresses the question and support your
position with evidence from the text(s). L2 Be sure to acknowledge competing
views. L3 Give examples from past or current events or issues to illustrate and
clarify your position.
Teaching task
What do the immigration laws written between 1880 and 1930 tell us about
American values during that time period? After reading primary and
secondary sources about U.S. immigration and related legislation between
1880 and 1930, write an essay that addresses the question and support your
position with evidence from the texts. L2 Be sure to acknowledge competing
views. L3 Give examples from past or current events or issues to illustrate and
clarify your position.
Writing good essential questions begins
with a key question for the teacher:
What are the most important concepts that I
want my students to learn from the unit or
lesson of instruction?
Why start a unit, module or lesson with a
question?
• Essential questions suggest inquiry
• Essential questions are a way to set the focus and
organize the lesson around key concepts implicit in the
standards and curriculum
• Essential questions lead to creative and critical thinking
Setting the Criteria for an
Essential Question
• Students should be able to comprehend the question
• The language of the question focuses on concepts that
are stated in broad terms
• Questions for modules or units of study should follow
some logical sequence that maps back to the curriculum
What follows from the
Essential Question?
• By asking some follow-up questions, teachers may
decide to revise the essential question
• The questions will also help the teacher to determine
what mini-tasks are needed to support the students in
responding to the essential question
Basic Prompts Following the
Essential Question
• What should the student have learned prior to the teaching task?
• What will the student need to know in order to answer the question?
• What strategies will actively engage the student as they work toward
the answer?
• What formative assessments will inform if the students are learning
the information?
• What skills will the students need in order to demonstrate their
response to the question?
Open Questions Create Complexity of
Thought
Eleanor Dougherty in her new book, Assignments Matter,
discusses essential questions: “A good question provokes
examination of texts and ideas, and sometimes situations
and conditions.”
Literal vs. Essential Questions
Eleanor Dougherty goes on to draw this distinction:
“Literal questions are good for classroom discussion and
quizzes, but open-ended and essential questions give a
unit or assignment intellectual heft.”
Examples from Assignments Matter
• Why did Lago betray Othello?
• Is the universe infinite?
• What is art?
The Power of Essential Questions
There is an excellent example in Assignments Matter that
describes a Socratic seminar using this question: What is
the proper role of the individual in a natural disaster?
The Task Follows the Question
After reading various perspectives on individual
responsibility and examining an interactive map of the 2010
Gulf Oil disaster, write a letter to a younger student that
addresses the question and support your position with
evidence from the texts.
(See page 105, Assignments Matter)
Create Essential Questions That Drive
Rigorous Tasks
Assignment for this module of the course is:
1. Read over pages 1-34 in the Appendix of the LDC Handbook.
This section is called: Template Task Collection 1.
2. On pages 3-5 there is a quick reference task chart that shows
which tasks begin with essential questions. Create essential
questions for tasks 2, 8 and 25.
3. Using one of the template tasks that you elected in #1, write
two mini-tasks that would support your students in
accomplishing the task.
References
Wiggins,Grant. www.authenticeducation.com. Hopewell, NJ 08525.
David Jakes and Internet Innovations, Inc. 2002.
Dougherty, Eleanor (2008) Assignments Matter. Tucson, AZ: EDThink,
LLC.
Literacy Design Collaborative Handbook (2011).

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