Essential Questions (2)

*As mentioned in my previous post, I am reading Understanding by Design and will post the most interesting bits here as a way to remember and reflect.*

“In the absence of overarching questions, students are left with rhetorical questions in a march through coverage or activities.

Questions not only focus learning, they also make all subject-knowledge possible. If students are to understand what is known, they need to simulate or recreate some of the inquiry by which the knowledge was created. Such an approach is, after all, how the pioneer came to understand the unknown: asking questions and testing ideas.

i.e. Why is it true that a triangle always has 180 degrees? How can we know for sure?

Types of questions (examples):

  1. Essential question: Must a story have a moral, heroes and villains?
  2. Unit question: Is Huck Finn a hero?
  3. *Entry-point questions for understanding

*Learners need concrete and meaningful experiences, problems, applications, and shifts of perspective to enable an important question to arise. Plunking a big idea at the beginning of a unit may not always stimulate student inquiry because typically the student does not know enough or care enough about the issues involved to see the need or value in addressing such question.

i.e. abstract discussion on property rights —is made accessible and intriguing by using the saying “Finders keepers, losers weepers” and building role-play around the idea.

Giving the answer straight away bypasses inquiry and deep understanding. “

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