A Voice from the Field Teacher Talks About Essential Standards
Goals ß What is an essential question? ß How do I write effective ones?
An Essential Question is ß One that lies at the heart of a subject or a curriculum & promotes inquiry & uncoverage of a subject.
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
Examples ß What is a true friend? ß To what extent does art reflect culture or shape it? ß Is everything quantifiable? ß To what extent is DNA destiny? ß In what ways is algebra real and in what ways is it unreal? ß To what extent is US history a history of progress?
Examples ß Must heroes be flawless? ß Who is entitled to own what? ß Is the subjunctive necessary? ß What makes writing worth reading? ß Does practice makes perfect? ß What is healthy eating? Healthy living?
What makes a question essential? ß Recurs throughout all our lives ß Refers to core ideas & inquiries within a discipline ß Helps students effectively inquire and make sense of important but complex ideas, knowledge, know-how ß Engages a specific & diverse set of learners
Intent, not language, is the key: ß Why we pose the question ß How students are to tackle it ß What learning activities & assessments we expect
Types of Essential Questions ß Overarching: Frame courses and programs of study around truly big ideas ß Topical: Are unit specific but still promote inquiry GOOD TEACHING USES BOTH!
Overarching Essential Questions ß More general, more broad ß Point beyond specific topics or skills ß Promote transfer of understanding
Examples of Overarching EQ Can a fictional story be true? How do a regions geography, climate, and natural resources affect the way people live and work? How does technological change influence peoples lives? Society? How does what we measure influence how we measure?
Examples of Overarching EQ ß How do we classify the things around us? ß Do artists have a responsibility to their audience? To society? ß How does language shape culture? ß Is pain necessary for progress in athletics?
Topical Essential Questions ß Unit specific - used to guide individual units ß Promote inquiry ß Resist simple answers ß Require explanation & justification
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?
Examples of Topical EQ ß What is the value of place value? ß What is electricity? ß How do we hit with greatest power without losing control?
Leading Questions ß Meant to culminate in a fact or completely settled conclusion ß No sustained inquiry or argument intended or necessary ß Underscores an important point we want students to note We need these, too, BUT... THEY CANNOT BE THE FOUNDATION OF OUR CURRICULAR DESIGN.
Where to start? Determine the big ideas Common Core and Essential Standards Course texts/Resources
What are Big Ideas? ß Core concepts, principles, theories, & processes that should serve as the focal point of curricula, instruction & assessment.
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
Finding Big Ideas ß Clarify Content Priorities ß Worth being familiar with ß Important to know and do ß Big ideas & Enduring Understandings
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
Big Ideas can be ß Concepts ß Themes ß Issues/Debates ß Problems/Challenges ß Processes ß Theories ß Paradoxes ß Assumptions/Perspectives
From Big Idea to EQ ß Identifying EQ & Understandings ß Start with Big Idea ß Answer questions related to Big Idea ß Generate EQ & desired understandings
Making the Connection Big Idea UnderstandingEssential Question Topic or Content Standard
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 Shakespeares view of destiny? How does it compare to yours?
Where to get more information ß Other training sessions--may be department, planning period in-service, Curriculum Depot ß Understanding by Design by Jay McTighe & Grant Wiggins