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Unit Design:
Big Ideas, EQs, & EUs
Essential Questions Not Essential Questions
Good Essential Questions
• Open-ended
• Thought-provoking, intellectually engaging
• Require higher-order thinking
• About...
“Essential”
• Important and timeless
• Elemental or foundational
• Vital or necessary for personal understanding
Why use essential questions?
• Signal that inquiry is the goal of education
• Make it more likely that the unit will be
in...
Designing Essential Questions
• By unpacking standards
• Based on skills and strategies
• Overarching  topical; topical ...
Big Ideas
• Concepts
• Themes
• Issues and debates
• Paradox
• Complex processes
• Persistent problems and
challenges
• In...
Identifying Truly Big Ideas
• Does it have many layers and nuances, not obvious to
the naïve or inexperienced person?
• Ca...
Example Big Ideas in ELAR
• audience and purpose in writing
• a story, as opposed to merely a list of events
linked by “an...
Enduring Understandings
• Important ideas and core processes
• Central to the discipline
• Have lasting value beyond the c...
Worth being familiar with
Important to know and do
Enduring Understandings
Designing EUs
• What do you want students to really remember
long after they have forgotten the discrete facts?
• What is ...
Draft Question Revised Question
Facets of Understanding
• Explain
• Interpret
• Apply
• Shift perspective
• Empathize
• Self-assess
Aspects of skill learning
• Key concept
• Purpose and value
• Strategy
• Context of use
Unit Design
• Focus on Big Ideas
• Enduring Understandings: What specific insights
about big ideas do we want students to ...
Essential Questions
• Asked to stimulate ongoing thinking and inquiry
• Raise more question
• Spark discussion and debate
...
Enduring Understandings
• Provide the learning context that anchor unit of
study
• Are the BIG IDEAS that reside at the he...
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Unit Design: Big Ideas EQs & EUs

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Essential Questions and Enduring Understandings

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Unit Design: Big Ideas EQs & EUs

  1. 1. Unit Design: Big Ideas, EQs, & EUs
  2. 2. Essential Questions Not Essential Questions
  3. 3. Good Essential Questions • Open-ended • Thought-provoking, intellectually engaging • Require higher-order thinking • About important, transferable ideas • Raise additional questions, spark inquiry • Require support and justification • Recur over time
  4. 4. “Essential” • Important and timeless • Elemental or foundational • Vital or necessary for personal understanding
  5. 5. Why use essential questions? • Signal that inquiry is the goal of education • Make it more likely that the unit will be intellectually engaging • Help to clarify and prioritize standards • Provide transparency for students • Encourage and model metacognition for students • Provide opportunities for intra- and interdisciplinary connections • Support meaningful differentiation
  6. 6. Designing Essential Questions • By unpacking standards • Based on skills and strategies • Overarching  topical; topical  overarching • From big ideas/enduring understandings • From possible or predictable misconceptions • Around facets of understanding
  7. 7. Big Ideas • Concepts • Themes • Issues and debates • Paradox • Complex processes • Persistent problems and challenges • Influential theories • Established policies • Key assumptions • Differing perspectives
  8. 8. Identifying Truly Big Ideas • Does it have many layers and nuances, not obvious to the naïve or inexperienced person? • Can it yield great depth and breadth of insight into the subject? Can it be used throughout K-12? • Do you have to dig deep to really understand its subtle meanings and implications even if anyone can have a surface grasp of it? • Is it (therefore) prone to misunderstanding as well as disagreement? • Are you likely to change your mind about its meaning and importance over a lifetime? • Does it reflect the core ideas as judged by experts?
  9. 9. Example Big Ideas in ELAR • audience and purpose in writing • a story, as opposed to merely a list of events linked by “and then…” • reading between the lines • writing as revision • a non-rhyming poem vs. prose • fiction as a window into truth • a critical yet empathetic reader • a writer’s voice
  10. 10. Enduring Understandings • Important ideas and core processes • Central to the discipline • Have lasting value beyond the classroom • Go beyond facts and skills to larger concepts, principles, or processes • Synthesize what students should understand (not just know or do) as a result of study • Articulate what students should revisit over course of lifetime
  11. 11. Worth being familiar with Important to know and do Enduring Understandings
  12. 12. Designing EUs • What do you want students to really remember long after they have forgotten the discrete facts? • What is your goal for student understanding based on the standards? • What is the essence of this particular unit of study? • How can you help students make connections? • How can you help students transfer learning?
  13. 13. Draft Question Revised Question
  14. 14. Facets of Understanding • Explain • Interpret • Apply • Shift perspective • Empathize • Self-assess
  15. 15. Aspects of skill learning • Key concept • Purpose and value • Strategy • Context of use
  16. 16. Unit Design • Focus on Big Ideas • Enduring Understandings: What specific insights about big ideas do we want students to leave with? • What essential questions will frame the teaching and learning, pointing toward key issues and ideas, and suggest meaningful and provocative inquiry into content? • What should students know and be able to do?
  17. 17. Essential Questions • Asked to stimulate ongoing thinking and inquiry • Raise more question • Spark discussion and debate • Asked and reasked throughout the unit (and maybe the year) • Demand justification and support • “Answers” may change as understanding deepens
  18. 18. Enduring Understandings • Provide the learning context that anchor unit of study • Are the BIG IDEAS that reside at the heart of the discipline • Have value beyond the classroom • Require uncoverage of abstract or often misunderstood ideas

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