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Using Essential Questions to Promote Student Discourse

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1 Using Essential Questions to Promote Student Discourse
Curriculum Implementation Modules ( ): Session Two Alexandria City Public Schools

2 Essential Questions for This Workshop
How can ACPS educators promote student understanding by using essential question? How can open-ended, interpretive questions focused on big ideas enhance student discourse?

3 Session Objectives By the end of this workshop, you should be able to:
Integrate ACPS Stage One essential questions into lesson planning and delivery. Use ACPS curriculum guide essential questions as part of a lesson they will teach during the coming week(s).

4 Our Agenda at a Glance Warm-Up Activity: Participants Share Experiences with ACPS Lesson Planning Template Modeling & Discussion: Key Elements of Essential Questions A “Quick-Sort” Activity: Is It an Essential Question? How Can We Tell? “Tree of thought” Seasonal Activity: Reflection on ACPS Curriculum Guide Essential Questions Planning Opportunity: Integrating Essential Questions into Lesson Plan Design Closure: End-of-Session Reflection, Feedback, & Questions

5 Think/Pair/Share Think: What are the key elements of the new ACPS curriculum guides? Pair: With a partner, share a “positive” about the new curriculum and a “challenge” (based upon what you’ve observed in the past month) or a question you both agree educators need to address as they begin to use it. Share: Be prepared to share your ideas with the whole group.

6 The “Big Ideas” of This Workshop
Using open-ended, interpretive questions to help learners unpack and understand the big ideas underlying the new ACPS curriculum design. Aligning curriculum, assessment, and the teaching-learning process around essential questions. Promoting student discourse as a major part of daily lesson planning and implementation. Integrating essential questions into lesson design, including Stage Two assessment evidence and Stage Three learning plans.

7 End-in-Mind Curriculum Guides “At-a-Glance”
Stage One: Desired Results: a. Transfer Goals b. Essential Questions c. Enabling Knowledge Objectives d. Suggested Resources Stage Two: Assessment Evidence: a. Balanced Assessment: Diagnostic, Formative, Summative b. Transfer Tasks and Measurement Topic Rubrics Stage Three: Unit Learning Plan: a. Pre-Assessment/Diagnosis: Requisite Background Knowledge b. Using Essential Questions to Promote Discourse c. Sequencing to Create a “No-Secrets” Classroom d. Strategies for Student Language Acquisition e. Differentiation

8 Why Use Essential Questions?
The more students understand what they are learning, the higher their levels of retention, transfer, and test performance. Essential questions help students unpack the big ideas of the content they are studying—and become conceptual organizers to help them internalize and retain key knowledge. Using essential questions can help students think holistically—seeing connections, patterns, and interrelationships.

9 Concept Attainment Activity: Understanding Essential Questions
Examine the “properly framed” and “improperly framed” essential questions. What do the five properly framed questions have in common? How do they differ from the five questions on the right? With a partner, answer these questions—and be prepared to share your list with the whole group. After the whole group builds consensus about the characteristics of essential questions, complete the next activity with your partner—determining if each item is—or is not—an essential question. Be prepared to defend your responses.

10 A Quick-Sort Follow-Up
Form teams of four to five members. Each team will be given a bag of questions. As a team, divide the questions into two categories: “Essential Questions” v. “Not Essential Questions.” When you’ve finished, trade tables with another group to see if you agree.

11 Essential Questions…(P. 91)
Are interpretive, i.e., have no single “right answer.” Provoke and sustain student inquiry, while focusing learning and culminating performances. Address conceptual or philosophical foundations of a discipline/ content area. Raise other important questions. Naturally and appropriately occur. Stimulate vital, ongoing rethinking of big ideas, assumptions, and prior lessons.

12 Sample Essential Questions (pp. 93-103)
1. In what ways does art reflect culture as well as shape it? 2. To what extent can a fictional story be “true”? 3. Why study history? What can we learn from the past? 4. Why do societies and civilizations change as technologies change? 5. How does language shape our perceptions? 6. How would our world be different if we didn’t have fractions? 7.How do the structures of biologically important molecules account for their functions?

13 Overarching vs.Topical Essential Questions (P. 92)
Essential questions vary according to their scope and level of generalization. An overarching essential question can apply to multiple points during a student’s education; the most overarching can also apply to multiple content areas. A topical essential question is unit or time-specific and generally applies to a specific unit within the student’s course of study.

14 Examples of Overarching and Topical Essential Questions
How do effective writers hook and hold their readers? How do organisms survive in harsh or changing environments? Topical How do great mystery writers hook and hold their readers? How do animals and plants survive in the desert?

15 Avoiding Common Pitfalls…
Avoid questions that have a single correct answer or a range of correct answers: e.g., What makes fractions equivalent? What are the major characteristics of Romantic poetry? Avoid merely “rephrasing” lesson objectives as questions: How can we edit for subject-verb agreement? How can we describe the parts of a cell? How can we apply the steps in the scientific method? Avoid emphasizing overly obscure or subsidiary aspects of the curriculum as a basis for essential questions: How did Emerson’s family history contribute to his ideas about Transcendentalism? How did George Washington’s early life in Virginia influence his leadership style? Avoid excessively vague or unfocused questions: Why is literature important? How has the United States changed?

16 Try Your Hand at Correcting the Following “Flawed” Essential Questions…
1. What are the differences between a democracy and a monarchy? 2. What were the major causes of the American Civil War? 3. Why is mathematics important? 4. How can we create a personal fitness plan? 5. How did Sophocles and Euripides differ in their use of the chorus?

17 Sample Revisions for the “Flawed” Essential Questions…(I)
1. What are the differences between a democracy and a monarchy? (How are power and authority distributed in various forms of government? Why do different countries and regions have different forms of government? How do governments differ in their view of citizenship and conferred authority?) 2. What were the major causes of the American Civil War? (Why do civil wars occur? How do civil wars reflect imbalances and disequilibrium among political, economic, and social factions within a society? To what extent was the U.S. Civil War inevitable? To what extent could it have been avoided?) 3. Why is mathematics important? (How does mathematics function in our world? How would our world be different if there were no mathematics? Why is mathematics considered to be a universal language throughout our world today?)

18 Sample Revisions for the “Flawed” Essential Questions…(II)
4. How can we create a personal fitness plan? (What does it mean to be physically fit? How can we promote physical fitness throughout our lifetime? How does our personal fitness plan need to change and evolve as we age and mature?) 5. How did Sophocles and Euripides differ in their use of the chorus? (What is a tragedy? To what extent are there universal elements common to all tragedies? How did Sophocles and Euripides differ in their approach to tragedy?)

19 Using Essential Questions
In table groups, review the “Tips for Using Essential Questions” on P. 106 of the UBD workbook. Also, discuss the handout “Using Essential Questions to Promote Student Discourse.” Which of these strategies have you used before? Which of these strategies are you willing to try out with your students?

20 An Essential Question Seminar
Form teams of three to four members. Assign (a) a facilitator; (b) a recorder; (c) a timekeeper; and (c) a presenter. During the seminar, the facilitator should stop periodically to summarize areas of agreement—and areas of disagreement or questions. Have the presenter be prepared to share your group’s reactions to one of the following essential questions.

21 Essential Questions for This Seminar
What would happen if the Internet were to disappear tomorrow? Why has every civilization in world history had some form of competitive athletics? To what extent is war inevitable?

Form teams of three to four members. Each team will spend five minutes creating a “Tree of Thought” poster. The poster should be divided into four sections: (1) Section One (Spring) should represent the emerging thoughts, perceptions, and questions they think a newcomer to essential questions might have. (2) The Summer section should present a list of things they predict they can observe when students have matured in their ability to respond to essential questions. (3) The “Fall” section should identify possible areas of challenge. (4) The “Winter” section should present areas in which they themselves feel challenged, uncertain, or questioning. At the conclusion of completing their drawings, the entire group will participate in a gallery walk, reviewing the tree of thought posters of other groups.

23 A Few Quick Highlights (Stage One)…
Every Stage One begins with SOL alignment. Stage One transfer goals represent powerful long-range learning targets that require students to transfer what they’ve learned to authentic performance assessment tasks (i.e., Stage Two transfer tasks). Essential questions are interpretive, i.e., open-ended questions that require students to discuss, debate, and revisit the big ideas of the unit. Enabling knowledge objectives are the “know and do” of the ACPS curriculum: i.e., its declarative and procedural knowledge—the building blocks leading to transfer goals. All suggested resources should now be available in every school teaching that particular curriculum.

24 Curricular Priorities and Assessment Methods (P. 141)
Traditional quizzes and tests (selected response)……. Quizzes and tests (constructed response)……. Performance tasks and projects… Performance tasks and projects (complex, open-ended, authentic)……... Worth Being Familiar With... All Students Should Know and Be Able to Do... Enduring Understandings

25 A Few Quick Highlights (Stage Two)
Every Stage Two emphasizes the importance of balanced assessment (i.e., using diagnostic/pre-assessment, formative, and summative assessment to monitor and support student progress). Every Stage Two has a required transfer task that asks students to respond to an authentic, real-world scenario requiring their independent application of key unit content (esp. transfer goals). The Stage Two scoring rubrics are aligned with K-12 program-level measurement topics.

26 What Is a Transfer Task? A culminating performance task that assesses students’ level of transfer at the end of each unit. An authentic, real-world task that requires students to explain, apply, interpret, and demonstrate self-regulation and self-knowledge. A task that represents a way for students to confirm that they have internalized the declarative (know) and procedural (do) knowledge of the unit. Scored using one or more measurement topic rubrics.

27 A Sample Transfer Task You are going to be an author! You are being asked to design and publish a new “Fractions Textbook” for students in younger grades to help them understand fractions, their importance, and how to add and subtract them. Start by writing examples of addition and subtraction problems involving fractions. Your textbook should include both word problems and visual representations of required mathematical processes. Ideally, a great textbook should also include interesting and engaging illustrations to excite the minds of younger learners. Your goals for your textbook are to ensure that younger students: 1. Can explain what a fraction is, 2. Can explain how equivalent fractions are used, and 3. Can describe specific ways in which fractions may show up in everyday life. When you have completed your textbook design, you will present it to the rest of the class, defending the approach you took and the types of problems you included. You will be evaluated on the basis of: (1) your understanding of adding and subtracting fractions with alike and unlike denominators; (2) your expression of answers in simplest forms; (3) your presenting valid and well supported mathematical proofs; and (4) your use of three key habits of mind: Striving for Accuracy; Thinking Flexibly; and Demonstrating Efficiency.

28 A Few Quick Highlights (Stage Three)
Stage Three is the unit learning plan. It is like a Map Quest for the unit: (i.e., recommended stops along the way of implementation—from preparing for the unit to beginning the unit to helping students construct meaning to moving students to eventual transfer…). Stage Three is a starting point for you to design your individual lesson plans.

29 Lesson Planning Using ACPS Curriculum Guide Essential Questions
Using Essential Questions to Promote Student Discourse

30 The Four-Tier ACPS Electronic Lesson Planning Template
Tier One: A blank three-stage planner Tier Two: The planner with required elements for each stage Tier Three: Explanations for each of the required elements Tier Four: Glossary and Exemplars

31 The ACPS End-in-Mind Lesson Planning Template
Stage One: Desired Results: a Essential Questions b. Mastery Objectives Stage Two: Assessment Evidence: a. Balanced Assessment: Diagnostic, Formative, Summative b. Unit Transfer Task and Measurement Topic Rubrics Stage Three: Unit Learning Plan: a. Pre-Assessment/Diagnosis: How will you use data about students’ readiness, interests, and learner profiles? b. Using Essential Questions to Promote Discourse c. Sequencing to Create a “No-Secrets” Classroom d. Strategies for Student Language Acquisition e. Differentiation

32 A Video Observation Activity
Video Two: Essential questions in action Pairs-Share: What are your commendations? What are your shared questions? What are one or two recommendations you might make? Whole Group: Be prepared to share your reactions with the whole group.

33 Reviewing Sample Lessons
With a partner, review each of the two sample lesson plans. What commendations can you make? What questions do you have? Are there recommendations you would give the teacher?

34 Participant Lesson Design Session
This is your chance to design a lesson for the coming week, using one or more essential questions. Either alone or with a partner, decide on a content (or interdisciplinary) focus for the coming week and the essential questions you will address with your students. Use the ACPS lesson planning template to design one or more lessons related to this question(s). Be prepared to share your draft(s) with your table partners.

35 Closure Activities Participant Debriefing: Pairs share status of lesson design process. Group Debriefing: What have we learned today? What questions would we like answered? Preview of Things to Come: What is the curriculum walk-through process?

36 Module Two Implementation Walk-Through Process
Take a few minutes to review the implementation indicators handout for Module Two. Are there specific questions you’d like answered about these indicators? Walk-through teams will be observing for evidence of each indicator in classrooms within the school as a whole.

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