As I was reading the article: Asking the Essential Questions: Curriculum Development, it made me think of all the wonderful Essential Questions I have heard. Since I do a lot with digital storytelling, my favorite one that I use is "Who Am I?"
What are some of your favorite Essential Questions that you use in your classroom or have heard from your PTs or MTs?
Good question, Vanessa!
Social Studies is like the stepchild in schools, especially since the pressures of NCLB. If it is taught like I was "taught," I can understand why, but schools are frequently being slammed because students can't answer questions about history. Part of the problem is that learning simply names and dates is basically useless and meaningless.
The most important questions are "Why did that happen?" "Why did they do that?" and "So, what?" As they try to answer these questions, they begin to make associations and connections (i.e. meaning).
Liz, great questions! I really liked the "So what?" As someone who really loves history, even though I didn't teach it, if we really taught Social Studies using PBL, our students should have a new found appreciation for where we are because of where we have been and what we went through to get here. I would guess that many students today really don't understand what drove the founding fathers to "July 4, 1776". Like Sir Winston Churchill said, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it". How true.
Do you believe that NCLB is forcing teachers to NOT use PBL in the classroom or is it simply that teachers really don't understand PBL? I would think that if teachers really used it, scores would go up, because kids would be learning.
Sorry about the soapbox!
Like Liz I lament the de-emphasis on social studies in our classrooms. I build my year long theme around my social studies units so they don't short shrift with all of the emphasis on reading and math in the elementary schools. I like to use "Why Change?" or "What is my contribution?" These help my students to focus on past, present, and future as we examine all of our topics and integrate science, literature, and writing in our work. Knowing about others' contributions puts the focus on meaning rather than just dates and facts.
I think my favorite Essential Questions of all time are "Why does it matter?" "How do I know?" and "Why should I care?" I wish I could take credit for coming up with these two, but I learned them from my students. These three questions have become so ingrained in me that I have them visible as I write my lesson plans. In my opinion, I need to make sure my lessons follow these three Essential Questions for me to be an effective teacher. Am I weird, or do others also use Essential Questions to guide lesson planning?
During our TwT Participant training last week our group came up with the EQ: "When is enough, enough?"
After thinking about the question we started generating cross curricular examples of when this question could be used. Based on the feedback, it can be used across all curricular areas. It was a GREAT moment as a trainer (and teacher)!
I like this Essential Question! I have never had anyone use that EQ in all the trainings I've done. Thanks so much for sharing it with us! I'm confident you enjoyed that part of your training! I'm interested in hearing some of the comments the participant teachers had when they gained this understanding of an Essential Question.
It was wonderful Glen! What a great group of thinkers! I had 2 eMINTS teachers in the group and the training really helped solidify their understandings. There was one teacher who completed her 1st year of training and it helped clarify her understandings. The PD4ETS got some great ideas to help her teachers understand the concepts and the remaining, non-eMINTS teachers were overwhelmed, but made tremendous growth. It was so exciting!
You have my empathy in considering the differentiation you had to do for eMINTS and non-eMINTS teachers in the same training. I can only imagine how some wondered why the others "Got it." You remind us of an excellent point about how everyone who participates in Intel Teach trainings makes "tremendous growth." As I reflect on different teachers I helped learn Intel Teach. I realize that each grew in their understanding of technology and how to help students think more deeply. Some growth was closer to what I hoped and expected - but they all grew as they went through the process.
How do you think this training might influence their discussions about Intel Teach as they work with other teachers?
Julie, like Glen, I have never heard anyone use that EQ before. As a former music teacher I have listened to music that goes "on and on" for no particular reason. I have read literature that goes "on and on" for no apparent reason. I have........well, you get the idea. This EQ definitely fits the bill. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely use it when I teach my next Intel course.
Isn't it great when the light bulb finally goes off!
I enjoyed reading all the thoughts and ideas about EQ's. The right questions do help to come up with a better answer. The right questions do cause students to become engaged and start thinking. Some students today seem not to be able to think very deeply about important subjects. I often wonder if it is because they don't spend enough time listening, but talk all the time! I think my students need to become better listeners before they can understand our past, present, or future issues in the world. The questions mentioned, "Why did that happen? Why did they do that? So what? and Why change? Are all great questions. Students today need to see how they can make a difference and see how they can make a change.