How to write an essential question

Writing Essential Questions David Jakes The effectiveness of your lesson plan design, and therefore your inquirybased Project Page, depends on the quality of your essential question. As all educators know, effective How can the answer be improved? 4. Refine the Content of the Question. Remember that an essential question should not have an obvious right answer and the answers to it should not be simple.

Explained in a different way, an essential question cannot be answered in one sentence, but does not need a whole book to answer it either. The essential question directs the course of student research. As such, essential questions are powerful, directive and commit students to the process of critical thinking through inquiry. Ultimately, the answer to the essential question will require that students craft a response that involves knowledge construction.

Clearly, if we pose this question with the intent of having students give a textbook answer (" a story contains a plot, characters, setting, and action" ), then the question (as pursued) is not essential in terms of our criteria. An essential question frames a unit of study as a problem to be solved.

It should connect students lived experiences and interests (their only resources for learning something new) to disciplinary problems in the world. The question is provocative, openended, and challenging which are all characteristics of a great essential question. Using essential questions to drive learning in classrooms from kindergarten to college is a smart way to dive deeper into higher order thinking. Essential questions are questions that we use to provoke a deeper understanding, further inquiry, or a transfer of learning when teaching complex topics.

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