CED 505, Fall 2011 1 Lucy AllenReview of Essential Questions Websites Website Information Information Restated Something I learnedhttp://www.galileo.org/tips/essential_questions.html Essential questions are the After reading thisTitle:“Creating Essential Questions” fundamental organizing article, I learned principles that rely on inquiry that essentialEssential questions develop foundational understandings. They provide to develop meaningful, questions are notthe fundamental organizing principles that bound an inquiry and guide authentic tasks that develop only on thethe development of meaningful, authentic tasks. Essential questions foundational understandings. boundary of thehave several key components: known but the They arise from people‟s attempts, throughout human history, People want to learn more unknown as well. to learn more about the world(s) we live in. about the world and this It also made sense Essential questions are so compelling that people have raised prompts the need for essential to me that people them in many different ways. questions. using their Attempts to answer essential questions allow people to explore imagination leads the connection between their personal, individual, unique Essential questions prompt to inquiry, with is experience of the world and its exterior, objective, held-in- people to explore the at the base of common dimensions. connection with their own essential Essential questions allow us to explore what knowledge is, individual experiences and questions. how it came to be, and how it has changed through human compare it to the different history. dimensions within the world. An essential question is always poised at the boundary of the known and the unknown. Essential questions promote An essential question reaches beyond itself. It is embedded in the exploration of knowledge, ideals of freedom, strength and possibility that permit people its history, and how it has to come-to-know without becoming trapped in constructs that changed. Essential questions are oppressive or no longer useful. are at the boundaries of theAn essential question engages the imagination in significant ways. known and unknown andWithout imagination, we could not ask the questions that drive science always reach beyond itself.forward. Essential questions have no boundaries and because of that it allows people to use their imagination to explore and push science forward.http://www.fno.org/Sept96/questions.html Essential questions provide I was surprisedTitle: “ From Now On” meaning and motivation to that students research. These questions are should have toEssential questions set students and staff free from this tedious and constructed b evaluating gather most ofwasteful ritual. Research becomes motivating and meaningful. An synthesizing and analyzing their informationessential question has the following attributes: information. Essential outside of the Essential questions reside at the top of Blooms Taxonomy questions spark curiosity and classroom. I would (Bloom, 1954). They require students to EVALUATE, wonder to answers that have thought that SYNTHESIZE and ANALYZE. cannot be found without most of this would Answers to essential questions cannot be found. They must inventing them. Students find have been be invented. Students must construct their own answers and answers by constructing their completed inside make their own meaning from the information they have own meaning from the the classroom. I gathered. They create insight. information they have guess with limited Answering such questions may take a life time, and even then, gathered. This information class time, it would the answers may only be tentative ones. should be gathered over time force students to Essential questions engage students in the kinds of real life and outside of class time, gather information applied problem-solving suggested by nearly every new which means that students outside of the curriculum report or outline curriculum standards such as the should take the initiative to classroom. NCTM and the Science standards. visit libraries for further Essential questions usually lend themselves well to exploration. Essential multidisciplinary investigations, requiring that students apply questions engage students the skills and perspectives of math and language arts while into problem-solving and wrestling with content from social studies or science. multidisciplinary investigations. Students often form small questions that will lead to answering the main question. In formulating the answer to questions, students list suppositions, pose hypothesis and make predictions. These predictions
CED 505, Fall 2011 2 Lucy Allen can be revised as more information is gathered. By following this model, students are enabled to construct meaning and reconstruct meaning.http://www.fno.org/feb01/pl.html By limiting students to games I had never reallyTitle: “From Trivial Pursuit to Essential Questions and Standards- on how to do research, it thought aboutBased Learning” deprives them from exploring students not being tough issues, choices, able to exploreWhen we limit students to trivial pursuit, we make a mockery of dilemmas and questions that issues because ofauthentic research and deprive them of a chance to explore the tough really matter. staff not havingissues, choices, dilemmas and questions that really matter. They are enough time toquestions that help us to make meaning out of events and Essential questions provide incorporatecircumstances of our lives. But essential questions require that meaning from events and essential questionsstudents spend time pondering the meaning and importance of circumstances in our lives. into theirinformation. Essential questions are questions that resonate within our This enables students to think curriculum. I amhearts and out souls. about the meaning and sure that there are importance of information. many standardsIf we were to draw a cluster diagram of the Questioning Tool Kit, that have to be metessential questions would be at the center of all the other types of Essential questions come from and it must bequestions. All the other questions and questioning skills serve the within our hearts and souls. difficult to balancepurpose of “casting light upon” or “illuminating essential questions.” These questions are located at this along withMost essential questions are interdisciplinary in nature. Essential the center of all other incorporatingquestions are at the heart of a search for Truth. questions. All of these other essential questions questions shed light upon or into theMany of us believe that schools should devote more time to essential illuminate essential questions. curriculum.questions and less time to trivial pursuit. Schools will see the bestreturns on investment when they engage students as infotectives. They Most essential questions aredevelop the ability to interpret, analyze and infer. Students spend their interdisciplinary and probetime transforming information into meaning… the deepest, complex, and Finding meaning baffling matters that require Creating meaning more than one simple answer. Extending meaning Essential questions are at the Reading between the lines core of the search for the Working with clues Truth. Building theoriesIn contrast, when schools engage students in trivial pursuit or Schools should allow studentsinvestigations that involve more entertainment than rigor and to be infotectives to interpret,substance, they waste their time and risk inspiring the (warranted) analyze and infer information.resistance of staff members who already have too little time to address Students transformthe demanding curriculum standards of this decade. information into meaning by finding meaning, creating meaning, extending meaning, reading between the lines, working with clues and building theories. When schools engage students with games, they waste student‟s time and deter inspiration from staff that barely have enough time to teach basic standards.http://www.fno.org/toolbox.html Students are naturally I liked the idea ofTitle: “Filling the Toolbox” inquisitive and we should let having students them be curious when it create questions toAs one of the primary goals of education is to develop autonomous but comes to learning. use for classinterdependent thinkers, students deserve frequent opportunities to discussion the nextshape and direct classroom inquiry. To fuel this inquiry, it is also As a teacher, try starting a day. I can see howessential that we validate the importance of curiosity in the process of lesson by asking students it would naturallylearning. what questions should be extend their asked about the topic. If the thinking processes.Try starting a new unit by asking your class to think of questions that teacher asks thoughcould be asked about a topic. If students are not used to this type of provoking questions, studentsexperience, they are likely to echo the kinds of questions they read at are likely to model theirthe end of textbook chapters or the kinds of questions teachers behavior. While students aregenerally ask around memory of facts and generalizations. If you ask presenting questions, it ismany tantalizing and divergent questions in your classroom, your important for the teacher to
CED 505, Fall 2011 3 Lucy Allenstudents are likely to model after your behavior. not appear judgmental. A good way to eliminateAs students begin to suggest questions, it is essential that the teacher criticism is to brainstorm.restrain judgmental cues. It is better to list questions without verbal or There are four rules forbody language comments. Otherwise students may play a game called brainstorming as follows:“Please the Authority” instead of liberating their curiosity. All suggestions/questioA key tool in eliminating criticism is brainstorming. The four rules of ns should bebrainstorming: accepted without All contributions are accepted without judgment; judgment. The goal is a large number of ideas or questions; The end goal is to Building on other people‟s ideas is encouraged; receive lots of Farout, unusual ideas are encouraged. questions. Students should beOnce the questions are listed and the storm of curiosity has subsided encouraged to buildsomewhat, it is often useful to go through an exercise of categorization, upon other ideas.asking the students how they might group any of the questions. These The teacher shouldcategories can then provide the basis for organizing and structuring the be encouraged toinvestigation for the next few days or weeks. Eventually students will build on othersuse the categorizing step to generate even more questions as they ideas.realized that they have omitted a parallel category or the process of The teacher shouldcategorization leads them to extend one of the categories. Once encourage “out of thestudents have categorized questions, you might spend some time asking box” type questions.them to identify which questions seem most interesting and whichwould be the least interesting. Once students begin to label different After all questions have beentypes of questions, questions become powerful tools for thinking. created, it is important toThinking about thinking about questioning both tend to strengthen the group questions intopower for student thought. categories, which will create even more questions. Next,When students begin to label the different kinds of questions, they learn the teacher should askto select different kinds of questions to perform different kinds of students which questions arethinking. No matter what the level of schooling, some kind of label can interesting and whichwork effectively. questions are not. This leads to a process of labeling, whichTeach students that questions are like tools in a tool box. Thinking encourages students to thinkrequires a choice of questions. and strengthen their power of thought.To introduce students to the idea of categorizing questions, bring in atool box of tools and ask them to suggest how they might be organized When students labelin the toolbox based on what they do. questions, they automatically perform different kinds ofPrimary students may begin with three or four types of questions. thinking. Students shouldMiddle school and secondary level students can create a typology think of questions as beingaround their own questions. tools in a toolbox. These tools should be organized based onPut your classroom questioning typology to work with your homework the specifications of the topicassignments. If students read an assignment, let them form questions being researched.for the next day‟s discussion. Ask them to identify the most importantand the least important questions. Encourage students to bring questions to class that revolveIf your class is about to read a story or see a film about an event, tell around a prior learningthem in advance that you will ask one of them to act as one of the main assignment. Here again,figures in the story or film once it is over. The rest of the class will take students should be able toturns asking that student interview questions. It is important to ask all identify which questions arestudents in the class to actually write out at least three questions to important, and which onesask. Students may otherwise rely upon a small number of highly active are not.and vocal students to carry the effort. It is important to designateWhen question are nurtured, admitting lack of knowledge is reward. It one student to enact ais the first step in learning and problem-solving. character (for example after a story is read) and have theLabel thinking questions by telling a class that a particular question is other students think of threea one minute or a five minute or a ten minute question. Let them questions to ask the studentstruggle with some of the multi-century questions. Ask them what their playing the character, afterminds do when they tackle such questions. Refuse to call on students the story is read. Thiswhile they are meant to be thinking. develops good learning and problem-solving skills.Show them the structure of thought that should underlie and informed
CED 505, Fall 2011 4 Lucy Allenconclusion to a demanding question. Work through the supporting As a teacher, tell yourarguments on the chalkboard so they can see that the main idea is students if a question thatsupported by a framework of other thoughts. you ask should be thought about for one, five or tenUsing the class developed typology, ask students to formulate and minutes. Refuse to call onanswer three questions of their own that fit a particular type. Another students while they areapproach is to develop a list of book reporting questions as a class supposed to be thinking aboutactivity. Students may then select from a rich menu each time they a question. If students appearcomplete a report. to struggle with a question, that is okay as you areThe teacher‟s careful analysis of the students‟ progress in thinking nurturing the thinkingthrough the questions is the other essential ingredient. process. If students appear to struggle with a concept make sure that you show them on the chalkboard so that they can see that a main idea is supported by a framework of other thoughts. As a teacher, ask your students to develop and answer three questions that compare/contrast a concept. Another idea is for the teacher to develop a rich list of questions that students can then pick from.http://www.fno.org/nov97/toolkit.html Each school district should I had never reallyTitle: “A Questioning Toolkit” have a toolbox of different thought of kinds of questions to not only EssentialEach district should create a Questioning Toolkit which contains promote thinking, but also to Questions as beingseveral dozen kinds of questions and questioning tools. This provoke it. This toolkit of among studentsQuestioning Toolkit should be printed in large type on posters which questions should be most importantreside on classroom walls close by networked, information-rich introduced to students when thoughts in life. Itcomputers. Portions of the Questioning Toolkit should be introduced as they first start school. A makes sense whenearly as Kindergarten so that students can bring powerful questioning students most important you think about ittechnologies and techniques with them as they arrive in high school. thoughts in life will center as to learn one around Essential Questions. must promoteThere are questions which touch our hearts and souls. They are central Most essential questions are questions toto our lives. They help define what it means to be human. Most interdisciplinary and provoke expand andimportant thought during our lives will center on such essential deep, complex issues, which improve uponquestions. cannot be answered simply. anything that is to Essential Questions seek be learned.Most Essential Questions are interdisciplinary in nature. Essential truth. Many believe thatQuestions prove the deepest issues confronting us…complex and schools should promotebaffling matters which elude simple answers. Essential Questions are Essential Questions, ratherat the heart of the search for Truth. than games of Trivial Pursuit, which is a process of askingMany of us believe that schools should devote more time on Essential questions to see pre-Question and less to Trivial Pursuit. determined answers.Essential Questions offer the organizing focus for a unit. Subsidiary QuestionsSubsidiary Questions These questions are formed inThese are questions which combine to help us build answers to our order to determine theEssential Questions. Big questions spawn families of smaller questions Essential Questions. A goodwhich lead to insight. The more skillful we and our students become at idea for students is toformulating and then categorizing Subsidiary Questions, the more brainstorm and list everysuccess we will have constructing new knowledge. question they can think of. This promotes spontaneity.We can brainstorm and list every question which comes to mind. Thisapproach has the benefit of spontaneity.We can take a list of question categories like the one outlined in thisarticle and generate questions for each category. This approach helpsprovoke thought and questions in categories which we might nototherwise consider.http://www.fno.org/parenting/outline.html Inventing - Parents should I like the parental
CED 505, Fall 2011 5 Lucy AllenTitle: “Parenting or an Age of Information: Preparing Your Daughter or help their children to get the involvement in thisSon for the Next Century” most out of school and life article. Parents experiences. Some ways to really do play aInventing- Parents can equip their children to make the most of school accomplish this are as follows: critical role in whatand life experiences. Play “what it” games and how their child Play “What if…” games with your children Encourage learns. I was Model the spirit of inventiveness inventiveness surprised by giving Nurture your child‟s imagination Nurture your child‟s your child choices, Encourage selective television-viewing imagination but can see that Reward responsible risk-taking Be selective as to the without choiceQuestioning – Questions are tools of thinking that can be modified and programs your child they will never bemolded to fit shifting situations. watches on television able to think about Welcome “Why?” questions Encourage risk and develop Make your child‟s life as wonder-full as possible taking essential Guard against excessive routine Questioning - This is an questions. Admit you do not have all the answers essential tool that can be Collect and relish puzzles molded and used in different Encourage optimism, faith and the benefit of the doubt situations. Some ideas toPuzzling – Good puzzling skills produce insight, the capacity to discern encourage this include:the true nature of the situation. Embrace “why” Fill the Toy Chest with Puzzles questions String Necklaces Make sure that your Introduce Games of Strategy child has a fulfilling Emphasize Observation, Recording and Interpretation life. Model the Crow‟s Nest Perspective Try not to followChoosing – They look ahead to assess the likely consequences of extreme routines.various choices. Let your child know Give your child more than a single choice that you do not know Develop the skill of compare-and-contrast every answer to every Shop around question Use role-playing to test consequences Collect and use Bring your child into the voting booth puzzles Develop a family decision-making council Encourage optimism and doubt Puzzling – these skills provide insight, which plays to the true nature of a situation. Some ideas to promote this include: Have a variety of different kinds of puzzles Play strategy games Ensure that your child observes, records and interprets information accurately Choosing – children should learn to choose different possibilities and solutions. Some ideas to promote this include: Give your child a variety of choices Teach your child to compare/contrast Encourage role- playing to test different scenarios Bring your child to the voting booth Develop a decision- making council within your familyhttp://web001.greece.k12.ny.us/academics.cfm?subpage=923 Themes and essential The basic criteria
CED 505, Fall 2011 6 Lucy AllenTitle: Themes & Essential Questions Framing Inquiry & Promoting questions help students tap listed for essentialCritical Thinking” into natural inquiry and questions really promote critical thinking. It promote the idea ofThemes and essential questions help to frame student inquiry and also helps frame and organize inquiry bypromote critical thinking. They also provide a helpful framework for study by using a multi-genre pinpointing theorganizing a unit of study using a multi-genre approach. approach. Essential exact tools needed questions have basic criteria in order to achieveGood essential questions have some basic criteria in common: as follows: the overall goal of They are open-ended and resist a simple or single right Are open-ended and student learning. answer. have no simple They are deliberately thought-provoking, counterintuitive, answers and/or controversial Promote thought, They require students to draw upon content knowledge and counter-intuition personal experience. and sometimes They can be revisited throughout the unit to engage students controversy. in evolving dialogue and debate. Taps into previousThe remainder of this article had files of questions for grades 6-12. knowledge and personal experience Promote engagement with evolving dialogue and debate throughout the study process. There are also numerous questions listed from grade 6- 12 and additional questions to use and think about when pursuing a unit of study.http://www.bie.org/images/uploads/useful_stuff/7_Essentials_PBL- This article discusses I was pleasantlyEdLeaderSept10.pdf traditional classroom projects surprised with theTitle: “7 Essentials for Project-Based Learning and compares them to a concept of project using project-based “presenting to theA classroom filled with student posters may suggest that students have learning. Student public.” I thinkengaged in meaningful learning, But it is the process of students‟ engagement and learning that a lot oflearning and the depth of their cognitive engagement-rather than the distinguishes projects from student workresulting product-that distinguishes projects from busywork. busywork. A good project should be has two criteria: presented in thisA project is meaningful if it fulfills two criteria. First, students must A project must be way as it providesperceive the work as personally meaningful, a task that matters and meaningful to meaning, purpose,that they want to do well. Second, a meaningful project fulfills an students. and makeseducational purpose. A meaningful project students feel like serves an they are 1. A Need to Know – Teachers can powerfully activate students‟ educational purpose. contributing to the need to know content by launching a project with an “entry If teachers approach a project larger community. event” that engages interest and initiates questioning. In with engagement, students contrast, announcing a project by distributing a packet of will naturally have questions. papers is likely to turn students off; it looks like a prelude to If a teacher just hands busywork. With a compelling student project, the reason for students a packet of papers learning relevant material becomes clear. I need to know this with instructions, it appears to meet the challenge I‟ve accepted. as busywork. The reason for 2. A Driving Question – A good driving question captures the learning then turns into the heart of the project in clear, compelling language, which gives challenge of the students students a sense of purpose and challenge. The question wanting to learn. should be provocative, open-ended, complex, and linked to the core of what you want students to learn. A project without a When teachers provide driving question is like and essay without a thesis. students with engaging 3. Student Voice and Choice– This element of project-based questions, students feel like learning is key. In terms of making a project feel more they have purpose and are meaningful to students, the more voice and choice, the better. challenged to find an answer On the “the more, the better” end of the scale, students can to the question. decide what products they will create, what resources they will use, and how they will structure their time. Students could The more voice and choice even choose a project‟s topic and driving questions. students have the better. 4. 21st Century Skills – A project should give students opportunities to build such 21st century skills as collaboration, By adding 21st century skills communication, critical thinking, and the use of technology, to a project, students are able which will serve them well in the workplace and life. This to collaborate, communicate exposure to authentic skills meets the second criterion for and incorporate critical
CED 505, Fall 2011 7 Lucy Allen meaningful work – an important purpose. A teacher in a thinking skills with the use of project-based learning environment explicitly teaches and technology. This type of work assesses these skills and provides frequent opportunities for provides purpose. students to assess themselves. 5. Inquiry and Innovation – Students find project work more Inquiry is at the base of meaningful if they conduct real inquiry, which does not mean student learning because it finding information in books or websites and pasting it onto a utilizes questions that lead to poster. In real inquiry, students follow a trail that begins with research to find the answer. their own questions, leads to a search for resources and the Often new questions are discovery of answers, and often ultimately leads to generating established by using this new questions, testing ideas, and drawing their own process. conclusions. With real inquiry comes innovation – a new answer to a driving question, a new product, or an individually It is important for teachers to generated solution to a problem. The teacher does not ask provide feedback to students students to simply reproduce teacher or textbook-provided as it provides meaning and information in a pretty format. purpose. It is also important 6. Feedback and Revision – Formulating a process for feedback for students to learn that and revision during a project makes learning meaningful revision is part of this process. because it emphasizes that creating high-quality products and performances is an important purpose of the endeavor. When students are able to Students need to learn that most people‟s first attempts don‟t present their work to the result in high quality and that revision is a frequent feature of public, it is often quality work real-world work. that is authentic and can 7. A Publicly Presented Product – Schoolwork is more possibly be used by meaningful when it‟s not done only for the teacher or the test. individuals outside of the When students present their work to a real audience, they care school setting. more about the quality. Once again, it‟s “the more is better” when it comes to authenticity. Students might replicate the kinds of tasks done by professionals – but even better, they might create real products that people outside school use.http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3751748&print=1 Project-based learning There was oneTitle: “The Power of Project Learning” engages students, teaches sentence in this them how to organize, how to article that reallyProject-based learning can be traced back to John Dewey and it has present finding, how to caught mycome and gone since the early 20th century. manage a complex project and attention, “We how to collaborate with other have to giveThe big payoff for PBL, as its advocates refer to it, comes when engaged students in a group. [students]students learn not only the curricula and the concepts involved in a permission toproject, but also learn how to organize and present their thoughts, how New Technology high schools think, not teachto manage a complex project in a limited amount of time, and how to were originally opened to them what tocollaborate with members of a group. teach students skills that they think.” I think would need to confront the that students areOf these, New Technology High School in Napa, California, is the economy once out of high so regimented intoepicenter. Opened in 1996, this high school was created to help school. There are currently followingstudents gain the skills needed for the new economy. Three years later, 40 of these new tech schools instructions in athe New Technology Foundation followed, its mission to help replicate across the United States. classroom thatNapa‟s school model throughout the country. There are now 40 new their minds areTech schools from coast to coast, including eight in California and four Students in these new tech often closed toeach in Texas and Louisiana. high schools are able to utilize thinking “outside the Internet by accessing the box.”High Tech students regularly make movies, robots, and websites, and electronic resources, makefinish by presenting their work publicly to real audiences. movies and even robots. The coursework in these high techThe school‟s schedule allows for cross-curricula work to be done over a schools are cross-curricular,period of hours per day. Students can access their work from anywhere so work is carried out overwith an Internet connection. several hours during the day. The best part is since all ofSome people are worried that if someone walks by a classroom, and it this work is housed on theseems disorderly, it will look like students aren‟t on task. Some Internet; students can accessteachers are reluctant to commit to PBL because they fear it means it and work on it at any time.scrapping a style they are comfortable with and starting over. There are people opposed to“It‟s not an additional burden of work, it‟s a transition of work” says this new kind of teachingDavid Ross, Buck Institutes director of professional development. because they think thatInstead of creating daily lessons, teachers do their planning before the students should be in theirlaunch of a project. Once the project starts, their job is to make sure seats, instead of scatteredstudents stay on track and cover the objectives. around a room in groups. Teachers often are so
CED 505, Fall 2011 8 Lucy AllenWhile younger teachers may seem more willing to try projects than 20- comfortable with a teachingyear veterans, some of the classroom‟s biggest doubters are its youngest style that they do not want tomembers. Students are habituated in elementary and middle school to embrace or be part of anyact alone. They think they have to solve problems by themselves. „We change.have to give [students] permission to think, not teach them what tothink.” David Ross, Director of the Buck Institute in professionalWhile teachers can certainly debate whether PBL would work in their development states that, “It‟sclassrooms, one aspect seems unassailable: the idea that when done not an additional burden ofproperly, students receive much more knowledge than can be recorded work; it‟s a transition ofon a bubble test. work.” Teachers no longer are planning lesson plans butWhat Makes a Great Project? “Have clear, strong-instructional goals,” now play a part in guiding asays Suzie Boss, coauthor of Reinventing Project-Based Learning. “The project.best questions have no clear answers,” says Tech Valley High SchoolPrincipal Dan Liebert. „As opposed to getting the right answer, [we tell Just as some adults arestudents] to come up with an answer they can defend.‟ Gary Stager, the apprehensive about this typeexecutive director at the Constructivist Consortium and an adjunct of learning, so are youngerprofessor of education at Pepperdine, says the elements of a good students. “Students areproject should include relevance for students, ample time to plan, habituated in elementary andchange, and complete the project, and enough complexity to inspire middle school to act alone.intense work. There should also be a way to connect the project with They think that they have topeople across the hall, on the other side of town, or across the world, an solve problems byopportunity for students to collaborate with peers, international themselves.”experts, and anybody in between, and a way for students to share theircompleted work. There are a few factors that are key to great projects: Projects should be clear with strong instructional goals. Projects should have relevance. Projects should have room for change. Projects should be complete. Projects should be complex to provide intense work. Projects should provide a way for students to share their work with peers in their community and all over the world.