Research shows students are more successful when the learning target is clearly established and understood. Writing standards-based essential questions in student-friendly language is one way to do this.
According to ASCD, here's what makes a good essential question:
- Is open-ended; that is, it typically will not have a single, final, and correct answer.
- Is thought-provoking and intellectually engaging, often sparking discussion and debate.
- Calls for higher-order thinking, such as analysis, inference, evaluation, prediction. It cannot be effectively answered by recall alone.
- Points toward important, transferable ideas within (and sometimes across) disciplines.
- Raises additional questions and sparks further inquiry.
- Requires support and justification, not just an answer.
- Recurs over time; that is, the question can and should be revisited again and again.
Here's how Ms. Simmons uses EQs in her 6th grade ELA classroom:
*Bonus points - They are aligned to the 6th grade Common Core Standards!
RL6.3 Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
RL6.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone
RL6.5 Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.