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Essential Questions

Essential Questions. Examples of Essential Questions In schools, essential questions may offer the organizing focus for a single discussion, a month’s unit of study or a whole year’s exploration.

Essential Questions

Outside of school, of course, essential questions might challenge us for years. We may struggle with questions of a lifetime as well as questions of the day. We may have close and brief encounters with monumental issues or longstanding relationships with queries that dog us, defy us or delight us. We cannot nail down essential questions in simple time frames.

In this section we will look at school examples that work well at four age levels: Primary Grades - Students from the age of 4 to 8. Primary Grades Questions about traits are especially powerful for this age group as young ones try to understand the world around them. What are the traits of a good fast food restaurant? Traits are at the heart of evaluation on Bloom’s Taxonomy - the skill of making wise choices based on criteria and evidence. Intermediate Grades. Questions of Import. Difference of Opinion Some questions matter more to some than others.

Questions of Import

Significance is defined to some extent by personal issues, tastes and interests. Several people looking at the image below might pose very different questions. Some might pose questions about media, media coverage and media literacy. Others might be intrigued by Michael himself and the drama surrounding his passing. Awakening a Sense of Import In some cases, young students may not recognize the import of an image, a poem or a set of numbers. The painting mentioned in the sample lesson above, "Four Boys on the Beach" by Winslow Homer, is a case in point. The boys' body language may be a matter of import but young students may not naturally fix their attention on how the boys are sitting.

In an effort to find a larger version of this painting on Google Images, the group might chance upon "Ship-Building, Gloucester Harbor," which is a composite of the water color above and three other of his works. Replacing Faux Inquiry with the Real Thing. Why should teachers nurture potent questioning skills and behaviors?

Replacing Faux Inquiry with the Real Thing

As a practical matter, students need to be able to read between the lines, infer meaning, draw conclusions from disparate clues and avoid the traps of presumptive intelligence, bias and predisposition. Great Research. A really great research project will demand original thought.

Great Research

Mere scooping and collection of information will not suffice. The project must be built around a question or an issue whose answer does not lie waiting on a Web page. This is not a scavenger hunt. Nor is it trivial pursuit. Photo from Students must make answers. Students as Infotectives The first step toward a sound research program is to think of students as infotectives. What is an infotective? An infotective solves information puzzles with a combination of inference skills and new technologies.

Infotective is a term designed for education in an Age of Information. These same skills produce high performance on the increasingly challenging state tests of reading comprehension and problem solving. For decades, schools showed students basic problem patterns and asked them to memorize solutions. Not knowing what you do not know. The Great Question Press. Why should teachers nurture potent questioning skills and behaviors?

The Great Question Press

As a practical matter, students need to be able to read between the lines, infer meaning, draw conclusions from disparate clues and avoid the traps of presumptive intelligence, bias and predisposition. They need these thinking skills to score well on increasingly tough school tests, but more importantly, they need these skills to score well on the increasingly baffling tests of life . . . how to vote?

Bigger is not better. FILLING THE TOOL BOX. The above ads are generated by Google and FNO does not endorse the products displayed in any manner.


From Now On The Educational Technology Journal Classroom Strategies to Engender Student Questioning © 1986 by Jamie McKenzie, Ed.D. and Hilarie Bryce Davis, Ed.D. all rights reserved. Most of the strategies described below have been developed and tested by teachers in Princeton, Madison and elsewhere. As one of the primary goals of education is to develop autonomous but interdependent thinkers, students deserve frequent opportunities to shape and direct classroom inquiry. 1) Beginning A New Unit (K-12) If a class is about to spend several days or weeks studying a particular topic or concept, traditional practice and unit design gives the teacher primary responsibility for identifying the key questions and the key answers. Try starting a new unit by asking your class to think of questions that could be asked about the topic; "What questions should we ask about the Civil War?

A Brilliant Question. Not Essential There is a difference between essential questions and brilliant questions.

A Brilliant Question

While essential questions touch upon the most important issues of life, they are rarely brilliant. Essential questions touch our hearts and souls. They are central to our lives. They help to define what it means to be human. Most important thought during our lives will center on such essential questions. What does it mean to be a good friend?

In contrast with essential questions, brilliant questions are important for their power to unlock mysteries and open doors. What will it take to win her heart? Questioning Toolkit. Essential Questions These are questions which touch our hearts and souls.

Questioning Toolkit