Essential Questions and DOK Thinking Levels - EDSU 533
THE BIG IDEAS
UNDERSTANDING BY DESIGN
DEPTH OF KNOWLEDGE (DOK)
Ask students to demonstrate:
Knowledge - recall information in original form
Comprehension - show understanding
Application - use learning in a new situation
Analysis - show s/he can see relationships
Synthesis - combine and integrate parts of prior
knowledge into a product, plan, or proposal that
Evaluation - assess and criticize on basis of
standards and criteria
Essential Questions: EQs
Spark our curiosity and sense of wonder
Desire to understand
Something that matters to us
Answers to EQs can NOT be found
Students must construct own answers
Make their own meaning from information
they have gathered
Answering such questions may
take a lifetime!
Answers may only be tentative
Information gathering may take
place outside of formal learning
Engage students in real life
applied problem solving
EQs lend themselves to
Ideal Essential Questions
Framed by students themselves
Best to start with subsidiary
questions that might help support
the main question
Formulate categories of related
“What else do we need to know?
Hypothesizing and Predicting
Thought process helps provide a basis
for construction of meaning.
Essential vs. Not Essential and DOK Verbs
• Share an idea for your essential
question topic, grade level, and
• Brainstorm possible essential
questions or critical thinking
questions for your lesson.
Aim for higher DOK level questions.
• Discuss at least one DOK verb at
levels 3 & 4.
Essential Questions in History and World
Language and English Language Arts
What should I do in my head when trying to
learn a language?
How can I express myself when I don't know
all the words (of a target language)?
What am I afraid of in hesitating to speak this
language? How can I overcome my hesitancy?
How do native speakers differ, if at all, from
fluent foreigners? How can I sound more like
a native speaker?
How much cultural understanding is required
to become competent in using a language?
How can I explore and describe cultures
without stereotyping them
English Language Arts
What do good readers do,
especially when they don't
comprehend a text?
How does what I am reading
influence how I should read it?
Why am I writing? For whom?
How do effective writers hook
and hold their readers?
What is the relationship between
fiction and truth?
How are stories from other places
and times about me?
What is an Essential Question?
Is open-ended; that is, it typically will not have a single,
final, and correct answer.
Is thought-provoking and intellectually engaging, often
sparking discussion and debate.
Calls for higher-order thinking, such as analysis, inference,
evaluation, prediction. It cannot be effectively answered by
Points toward important, transferable ideas within (and
sometimes across) disciplines.
Raises additional questions and sparks further inquiry.
Requires support and justification, not just an answer.
Recurs over time; that is, the question can and should be
revisited again and again.
Understanding by Design
What are the big ideas?
What’s the evidence?
How do we get there?
Represent a big idea having
enduring value beyond the
Reside at the heart of
the discipline (involve
“doing” the subject)
Understanding by Design
Desired Results: What will the
Acceptable Evidence: How
will you design an assessment
that accurately determines if
the student learned what
he/she was supposed to learn?
Lesson Planning: How do you
design a lesson that results in
Understanding by Design
Will this lesson lead to enduring understanding?
Worth being familiar
Important to know
Understanding by Design
Product or Publication
Performance or Presentation
Performance tasks and projects need
assessments that are more authentic than
traditional quizzes and tests.
for Enduring Understandings
How will you engage your students in this topic?
How do you hook them in with your “anticipatory
How will you motivate students to think critically and
explore essential questions?
How will you move beyond “recall” to problem
How will your lessons result in “enduring
understanding” of key issues in society?
What will students do, create, or present to express
their knowledge and understanding?
Common Core State Standards
English Language Arts, Math, History,
Students need to be ready for college, workforce, and
life in a technological society. They need the ability to:
Gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and
report on information and ideas.
Conduct original research in order to answer
questions or solve problems.
Analyze and create a high volume and extensive
range of print and nonprint texts in media forms
old and new.
Research to Build and Express
Gather relevant information from multiple
authoritative print and digital sources, using
advanced searches effectively.
Assess the strengths and limitations of each
source in terms of the task, purpose, and
Integrate and evaluate content presented in
diverse formats and media, including visually
and quantitatively, as well as in words.
Visuals and Technology
Interpret information presented visually, orally,
or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs,
diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive
elements on Web pages)
Translate quantitative or technical information
expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g.,
a table or chart) and translate information
expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an
equation) into words.
Take advantage of technology’s capacity to link to
other information and to display information
flexibly and dynamically.
Digital Media Production
Make strategic use of digital media (e.g.,
textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive
elements) in presentations to enhance
understanding of findings, reasoning, and
evidence and to add interest.
Use technology, including the Internet, to
produce, publish, and update individual or
shared writing products
DOK Levels 1 & 2: Common Core
State Standards (CCSS)
Recall and Reproduction: Level 1
DOK 1 requires recall of information, such as a fact,
definition, or term, or performance of a simple process
Skills and Concepts: Level 2
DOK 2 includes the engagement of some mental
processing beyond recalling or reproducing a response.
Items require students to make some decisions as to
how to approach the question or problem.
DOK Levels 3 & 4: CCSS
Strategic Thinking: Level 3
DOK 3 requires deep understanding as exhibited
through planning, using evidence, and more demanding
cognitive reasoning. The cognitive demands at Level 3
are complex and abstract.
Extended Thinking: Level 4
DOK 4 requires high cognitive demand and is very complex.
Students are expected to make connections – relate ideas
within the content or among content areas – and have to
select or devise one approach among many alternatives on
how to solve the problem.
Entry Level, Progress Monitoring and
How will you know that students learned what
you expected them to learn?
What types of assessment might be most
reliable in determining student
understanding or level of proficiency?
What skills do your students need to develop in
order to build knowledge of the content?
What kinds of activities will result in
students being able to develop those skills and
express their knowledge and understanding?
DOK Question Stems
DOK 1: Recall - Reproduction DOK 2: Skills and Concepts
Can you recall______?
When did ____ happen?
Who was ____?
How can you recognize____?
How can you find the meaning
Can you recall____?
Can you select____?
How would you write___?
What might you include on a list
What is the formula for___?
Can you identify___?
How would you describe___?
Can you explain how ____ affected
How would you apply what you learned
to develop ____?
How would you compare ____?
How would you classify____?
How are____ alike? Different?
How would you classify the type of____?
What can you say about____?
How would you summarize____?
How would you summarize___?
What steps are needed to edit___?
When would you use an outline to ___?
How would you estimate___?
How could you organize___?
What would you use to classify___?
What do you notice about___?
DOK Question Stems
DOK 3: StrategicThinking DOK 4: ExtendedThinking
How is ____ related to ____?
What conclusions can you draw _____?
How would you adapt____to create a
How would you test____?
Can you predict the outcome if____?
What is the best answer? Why?
What conclusion can be drawn from these
What is your interpretation of this text?
Support your rationale.
How would you describe the sequence of____?
What facts would you select to support____?
Can you elaborate on the reason____?
What would happen if___?
Can you formulate a theory for___?
How would you test___?
Can you elaborate on the reason___?
Write a thesis, drawing conclusions
from multiple sources.
Design and conduct an experiment.
Gather information to develop
alternative explanations for the
results of an experiment.
Write a research paper on a topic.
Apply information from one text to
another text to develop a persuasive
What information can you gather to
support your idea about___?
DOK 4 would most likely be the
writing of a research paper or
applying information from one text
to another text to develop a
DOK 4 requires time for extended