Essential QuestionsWhat are they and how do youwrite one?
What Is an Essential Question?• A question you have tothink critically to answer.Instead of simply lookingup an answer, you needto conduct research andcreate an originalanswer.
An Essential Question…–provokes deep thought.–solicits information-gathering andevaluation of data.–results in an original answer.–helps students conduct problem-relatedresearch.–makes students produce original ideasrather than predetermined answers.–may not have an answer.–encourages critical thinking not justmemorization of facts.
Types of Essential Questions• Which one?• How?• What if?• Should?• Why?
“Essential vs. TraditionalQuestions"• Not Essential:–“What is it like to live in Hong Kong?"• Essential–Which city in Southeast Asia is the bestplace to live?• Not Essential:–“What is AIDS?"• Essential:–Which serious disease most deservesresearch funding?
“How Questions"• Example:What are somesustainable solutions toenvironmental problemsin your neighborhood,and how could they beimplemented?
"What if Questions"• What if questions are hypothetical,questions which ask you to use theknowledge you have to pose a hypothesisand consider options.• Examples:–"What if the Cultural Revolution hadnever happened?"–"What if students didn’t have to go toschool?”
"Should Questions"• Should questions make a moral orpractical decision based on evidence.• Examples:–"Should we clone humans?“–"Should we discontinue trade withcountries that abuse human rights?"
"Why Questions"• Why questions ask you to understandcause and effect. "Why" helps usunderstand relationships; it helps us get tothe essence of an issue.• Examples:–"Why do people abuse drugs?"–"Why is the death rate higher in oneThird World country than another?"
• What are Fat Question?– Open-ended questions, which can be arguedand supported by evidence.• Examples:– Skinny Question: "When was the Declarationof Independence signed?"– Fat Question: "What would have happenedhad we not signed it?”Skinny vs. “Fat” Questions
How do you write an essentialquestion?Consider the focus of the unit orlesson activity:•Digital Dossier•Digital Citizenship•Digital Footprint•Cyberbullying•Bullying
How do you write anessential question?Ideas for a good essential question:1. may stem from your particular interests in atopic (e.g. If you were a victim ofcyberbullying, what would you do?,community resources (How is your schooldealing with bullying?)2. Begin with the 6 typical queries thatnewspaper articles address: Who? What?Where? When? Why? and How?3. From these questions formulate youressential question.4. Use: Which one? How? What if? Should?Why?
Student ExampleDeveloping an Essential QuestionFive Supporting Questions about Muhammad Ali1.HOW did he influence the Civil Rights Movement?2.WHAT were the main reasons for him not going into themilitary service?3.WHEN did Ali decide not to participate in military service?4.WHAT was the public reaction when Ali did not join themilitary service?5.WHAT were his punishment for not joining the military whenhe was required under the DRAFT?ESSENTIAL QUESTIONHow did Ali influence other people of his race and the CivilRights movement when he refused to serve in the Militarybecause of his religious beliefs?
Examples of Open-endedQuestions• How would you…?• What would result if…?• How would you describe…?• How does…compare with…?• What is the relationship between…?• What would happen if…?• How could you change…?• How would you improve…?• How do you feel about…?
Examples ofOpen-ended Questions• Why do you believe…?• What is your opinion of…?• What choice would you have made…?• What would you do differently?• Why do you feel…?• How would you go about solving theproblem…?• If you were in this position what would youdo?• Why do you/don’t you support…?• What could improve…?
Questioning Resources• Asking Essential Questionshttp://www.biopoint.com/ibr/askquestion.html• The Key to Understanding Essential Questionshttp://www.hannibal.cnyric.org/Acrobat%20docs/ESSENTIAL%20QUESTIONS%20For%20high%20School.pdf• Themes and Essential Questions: FramingInquiry and Critical Thinkinghttp://www.greece.k12.ny.us/instruction/ELA/6-12/Essential%20Questions/Index.htm• Asking Essential Questionshttp://www.il-tce.org/present04/flesser.pdf