What exactly are "essential questions"

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by NoviceTutor, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. NoviceTutor

    NoviceTutor Companion

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    Jun 21, 2011

    Hi All,

    I was reading a comment by one contributor, and there is a mentioning of the phrase, "essential questions". The person said that sometimes they are required to be posted in the classroom. What exactly are essential questions? Are they just "lesson objectives" converted into question forms? Thanks in advance for your input.
     
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  3. StudentTeach

    StudentTeach Comrade

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    Jun 22, 2011

    Essential questions are usually the "big" or "main" (i.e.: essential) questions that you are aiming to answer or to try and work out, discuss or argue within the whole unit. Lesson objectives are for individual lessons. Here's an example:

    Unit: Modernism in American Literature
    Essential Question: How did modernization result in isolation and disillusionment in the early American twentieth century?
    Today's lesson objectives day 1: Students will be able to define/discuss what makes something "modern." Students will be able to identify modern American writers.

    Does this help?
     
  4. math1abee

    math1abee Companion

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    Jun 22, 2011

    I think its a very good answer!
     
  5. mrs100

    mrs100 Comrade

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    Jun 22, 2011

    Just like StudentTeach said, these are the questions your students MUST be able to answer by the end of your lesson. Gives you a good direction for the lesson and a clear way to assess how effective your lesson was.
     
  6. nstructor

    nstructor Cohort

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    Jun 22, 2011

    Our essential questions are:

    What are you learning?
    How will this help you in your life in the future?
    How do you know your work is acceptable?
    How can you make your work better?
     
  7. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Jun 22, 2011

    Essential questions are also part of the Understanding by Design model.

    In that organizational schema, you identify the Enduring Understandings (things you want students to know) then create essential questions that help students to explore those ideas. Each lesson, each unit, each class and each discipline has its own EQ's pegged to EUs, moving up a ladder that becomes increasingly general at each level.

    nstructor's EQs look more meta-cognitive, though, so I don't think EQs have to be UbD-related.
     
  8. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Jun 22, 2011

    I think the purpose is to focus the lesson. You want kids to buy into what they are learning, so you ask a question. A person's brain wants an answer, so you focus your brain on the lesson to fill that void. It awakens couriosity. Your brain says, "Well why did..." Or "Hmmm. How does that...."

    Learning By Design is the big movement of this decade. Every once in awhile, in education, something big comes along that sweeps the nation. This is it.
     

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