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Crafting Essential Questions Union Chapel Retreat November 16-18, 2012

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Presentation on theme: "Crafting Essential Questions Union Chapel Retreat November 16-18, 2012"— Presentation transcript:

1 Crafting Essential Questions Union Chapel Retreat November 16-18, 2012
Source: Understanding by Design by Jay McTighe & Grant Wiggins, © 2004

2 A Voice from the Field Teacher Talks About Essential Standards

3 Goals What is an essential question? How do I write effective ones?

4 An Essential Question is
One that lies at the heart of a subject or a curriculum & promotes inquiry & uncoverage of a subject.

5 Essential Questions Have no simple “right” answer
Provoke & sustain inquiry Address conceptual or philosophical foundations Raise other important questions Naturally & appropriately recur Stimulate vital, ongoing rethinking

6 Examples What is a true friend?
To what extent does art reflect culture or shape it? Is everything quantifiable? To what extent is DNA destiny? In what ways is algebra real and in what ways is it unreal? To what extent is US history a history of progress?

7 Examples Must heroes be flawless? Who is entitled to own what?
Is the subjunctive necessary? What makes writing worth reading? Does practice makes perfect? What is healthy eating? Healthy living?

8 What makes a question “essential”?
Recurs throughout all our lives Refers to core ideas & inquiries within a discipline Helps students effectively inquire and make sense of important but complex ideas, knowledge, know-how Engages a specific & diverse set of learners

9 Intent, not language, is the key:
Why we pose the question How students are to tackle it What learning activities & assessments we expect

10 Types of Essential Questions
Overarching: Frame courses and programs of study around truly big ideas Topical: Are unit specific but still promote inquiry GOOD TEACHING USES BOTH!

11 Overarching Essential Questions
More general, more broad Point beyond specific topics or skills Promote transfer of understanding

12 Examples of Overarching EQ
Can a fictional story be “true”? How do a region’s geography, climate, and natural resources affect the way people live and work? How does technological change influence people’s lives? Society? How does what we measure influence how we measure?

13 Examples of Overarching EQ
How do we classify the things around us? Do artists have a responsibility to their audience? To society? How does language shape culture? Is pain necessary for progress in athletics?

14 Topical Essential Questions
Unit specific - used to guide individual units Promote inquiry Resist simple answers Require explanation & justification

15 Examples of Topical EQ How might Congress have better protected minority rights in the 1950s & 1960s? Should we require DNA samples from every convicted criminal? Is Holden Caulfield a “phony”?

16 Examples of Topical EQ What is the value of place value?
What is electricity? How do we hit with greatest power without losing control?

Leading Questions Meant to culminate in a fact or completely settled conclusion No sustained inquiry or argument intended or necessary Underscores an important point we want students to note We need these, too, BUT... THEY CANNOT BE THE FOUNDATION OF OUR CURRICULAR DESIGN.

18 Where to start? Determine the “big ideas”
Common Core and Essential Standards Course texts/Resources

19 What are Big Ideas? Core concepts, principles, theories, & processes that should serve as the focal point of curricula, instruction & assessment.

20 Big Ideas Are important and enduring Are not obvious
May be prone to misunderstanding Prioritize content Are transferable Are the building material of understandings Manifest in various ways within disciplines Act as “conceptual velcro”

21 Finding Big Ideas Clarify Content Priorities Worth being familiar with
Important to know and do Big ideas & Enduring Understandings

22 Finding Big Ideas Unpack the NCSCS (CC/ES)
Circle key nouns, adjectives, & verbs Draft implied or stated big ideas based on those key words. Critically analyze the course text Work “backward” to determine what big ideas and/or EQ the text addresses

23 Big Ideas can be Concepts Themes Issues/Debates Problems/Challenges
Processes Theories Paradoxes Assumptions/Perspectives

24 From Big Idea to EQ Identifying EQ & Understandings
Start with Big Idea Answer questions related to Big Idea Generate EQ & desired understandings

25 Topic or Content Standard
Making the Connection Big Idea Topic or Content Standard Understanding Essential Question

26 Example Standard: The learner will be able to read, respond to, and critique historically and culturally significant works of literature in order to understand their importance and relationship to past and present cultures. Overarching EQ: Does literature primarily reflect culture or shape it? Topical EQ: What does Romeo & Juliet teach us about Shakespeare’s view of destiny? How does it compare to yours?

27 Where to get more information
Other training sessions--may be department, planning period in-service, Curriculum Depot Understanding by Design by Jay McTighe & Grant Wiggins

28 Questions?

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