Examples of Essential Questions How could the Civil War have What kind of person changed had Abraham Lincoln should I be friends with?been assassinated during the first What kind of friend should month of his presidency? I be?
What are Essential Questions?Essential Questions are questions that go to the heart of the matter orpoints to the very core of the issue. They are questions that recurthroughout one’s life as they can be debated for a long time.These are questions that engage learners and follow the premises of“Bloom’s Taxonomy”. They are not answered by simple answers. Theyrequire new original thoughts instead of just a collection of facts.
Traits of an Essential QuestionThere are six traits or components of an essential question:• The question asks something of importance – makes the person have deep thoughts• The question makes one make a choice or form a decision – need to gather information and evaluate it• The question can not be answered by a “yes” or “no” – requires an original answer• The question and answer changes with time – problems change with time so the solutions will as well• The question may be unanswerable• The question causes some frustration because there will be no definite answer – reader needs to use critical thinking skills and not just memorize facts
Comparison of Regular and Essential QuestionsRegular-non thought provoking Essential Questionquestions• What did Abraham Lincoln do as • What qualities did Abraham president? Lincoln have that contributed to his success?• What types of things could make our internet experience not safe? • How would your life be different if you didn’t have the internet?• What was it like to live in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, • Compare the life in St. Petersburg, MO during the time of Tom MO and another town in the Sawyer? Midwest during the time of Tom Sawyer?
How to incorporate this theoryIncorporating this theory into our everyday language, it is essential that this begins at home. Parents should begin asking these kinds of questions of their children at a young age so that the children will be familiar and used to finding answers that invoke their thought processes so that they can create an answer.If this process begins at home, it will be that much easier to incorporate essential questions in the classroom. Education is a multifaceted process. Not only are items needing to be memorized, but education requires people to think outside the box to be able to ask and answer essential questions.
How to incorporate this theoryIf one is to be able to use previous knowledge and experiences to formulate thoughts then one must be provided opportunities to research and have life experiences that will help them be able to ponder questions of importance and life relevance.Parents, Teachers, and Students need to work together to create an atmosphere of learning and a desire to continue learning throughout life. Too often parents don’t have the time or don’t take the time to spend time with their children to help them with their learning. To truly learn, it needs to take place 24/7 not just from 7:30AM-3:30PM daily.
Development of the theoryThis is a theory that was formulated by Mr. Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in the late 80’s. They have written books and formulated a curriculum that is called Understanding by Design. Essential Questions are truly the core of this curriculum.This curriculum’s primary goal is to develop and enhance the student’s understanding of what is being taught. As students understand more of the concepts then teachers can better assess them on what they have learned. It encompasses a curriculum design that begins with goal and assessment formation. Then after that is developed, then a teacher can move into more of the classroom activities and techniques to have the children better learn and understand the concepts.
Bibliography• n.d. <http://tnellen.com/alt/essential.html>.• Connection, Technology. Dare to Differentiate. 1995. <http://daretodifferentiate.wikispaces.com/file/view/essential.pdf>.• McKenzie, Jamie. Essential Questions Vol 1/No 5/March/2005. March 2005. <http://questioning.org/mar05/essential.html>.• Understanding by Design. n.d. <http://authenticeducation.org/ubd/ubd.lasso>.• Vol 6/No 1/September 1996. n.d. <http://www.fno.org/sept96/questions.html>.• 150+ Essential Questions for Math. n.d. <http://www.derry.k12.nh.us/dvs/staff/cmccallum/imagescurric/questio ns.jpg>.