Essential Questions Evaluation CED505 by Mary Railey
What are Essential Questions?Taken from a series of articles first printed in Technology Connection 1995 Essential questions reside at the top of Blooms Taxonomy (Bloom, 1954). They require students to EVALUATE (make a thoughtful choice between options, with the choice based upon clearly stated criteria), to SYNTHESIZE (invent a new or different version) or to ANALYZE (develop a thorough and complex understanding through skillful questioning). Essential questions spark our curiosity and sense of wonder. They derive from some deep wish to understand some thing which matters to us. Answers to essential questions cannot be found. They must be invented. Students must construct their own answers and make their own meaning from the information they have gathered. They create insight. Have no one obvious "right" answer: essential "answers" are not self- evidently true. Even if there are "truths" and essential theories in a discipline, the student comes to know that there are other plausible theses and hypotheses to be considered and sorted through along with the "sanctioned" views. Answering such questions may take a life time, and even then, the answers may only be tentative ones. This kind of research, like good writing, should proceed over the course of several weeks, with much of the information gathering taking place outside of formally scheduled class hours.
What are Essential Questions?Taken from a series of articles first printed in Technology Connection 1995 Essential questions engage students in the kinds of real life applied problem- solving suggested by nearly every new curriculum report or outline curriculum standards such as the NCTM and the Science Standards. Essential questions usually lend themselves well to multidisciplinary investigations, requiring that students apply the skills and perspectives of math and language arts while wrestling with content from social studies or science. Essential questions Go to the heart of a discipline. They can be found in the most historically important (and controversial) problems and topics in the sciences. Recur throughout ones learning. The same important questions get asked and re-asked, if they are essential. Our answers to essential questions may never be adequate, but they should become increasingly sophisticated. Are framed to provoke and sustain student interest. Link to other essential questions. Good questions engender other good questions.
From Trivial Pursuit to EssentialQuestions and Standards-BasedLearningWEB SUMMARY REVELATIONSADDRESSFrom Now On Asking questions which have no meaning In life and the workplace,The Educational or purpose is a fruitless endeavor. Just projects are not typicallyTechnology because a question is hard to answer divided into disciplines such asJournal doesn’t mean it provokes thought. Math, English, and SocialVol 10|No Essential questions cause students to Studies. Cross disciplinary5|February|2001 think about why information is important problems are more suited to as opposed to having them obtain authentic learning experiences,by Jamie knowledge without regard for it’s once students have a base ofMcKenzie usefulness. Essential questions help knowledge to use to draw from“There is a huge students understand phenomenon, and build on.difference between issues and events. They don’t haveknowledge on the simple answers. I had never heard the termone hand and “infotective” before reading thisunderstanding or article. It would be a great terminsight on the to use with students toother hand.” describe what they should be doing as they search for thehttp://www.fno.org/f answers to questions.eb01/pl.html
Framing Essential QuestionsWEB ADDRESS SUMMARY REVELATIONSFrom Now On In addition reiterating descriptive Guiding researchVol 6 |No 1| information about essential with thoughtSeptember| 1996 questions, Framing Essential provokingFraming Essential Questions discusses how students questions andQuestions can actually break these broad teaching students“Essential questions set questions down into “subsidiary” how to generatestudents and staff free questions. Forming smaller essentialfrom this tedious and questions based on the main questions on theirwasteful ritual. question and categorizing them will own will go a longResearch becomes help students use research to way towardsmotivating and actually learn instead of just find supportingmeaningful.” information. Some of the questions success in higherhttp://www.fno.org/sept will be posed as hypotheses and education and jobs96/questions.html suppositions which may or may not which require be supported by research. Even if workers to solve the research doesn’t support the problems and e hypotheses, students learn. innovative.
A Questioning ToolkitWEBSITE SUMMARY REVELATIONSFrom Now On Subsidiary questions, when Teaching individuals toThe Educational answered, help us understand think using essentialTechnology Journal the Essential question they are and subsidiaryVol 7|No 3|November- derived from. A questioning tool questions beginning atDecember|1997 kit describes each type of Kindergarten level question, the components, would change education A Questioning Toolkit keyword, and circumstances entirely. Mastery and“If we were to draw a cluster each is best suited for. Some of memorization have itsdiagram of the Questioning the types of subsidiary place at the earliestToolkit, Essential Questions questions are Hypothetical, levels of education sowould be at the center of all Telling, Planning, Organizing, that students have athe other types of questions. Probing, Sorting and sifting, solid base to build on.All the other questions and Clarification, and Strategic. Applying the questioningquestioning skills serve the Each type will shed light on a toolkit as early as it canpurpose of "casting light different aspect of the essential be applied and where itupon" or illuminating question. can be used wouldEssential Questions.” This article promotes making change the wayhttp://www.fno.org/nov97/to questioning toolkits available students viewolkit.html near computers and research education. It would areas beginning at seem that this view Kindergarten to help them would be more positive develop questioning techniques and motivate students to before high school. become active learners.