Essential Questions

Grant Wiggins and his Understanding by Design cohorts define Essential Questions as those questions that

  1. invite you to dig down deep into the topic
  2. keep you thinking and broaden your understanding
  3. let you ponder multiple approaches to the issue
  4. give you room to change your mind about the topic
  5. grab your recognition and affective networks
  6. don’t disappear off your radar when the conversation stops

Michael Wesch (see yesterday’s post)  has some essential questions for educators to consider.

prepared for this world

what do we need to know for this testsource for first two images: screen shots of streaming talk

source for this image:


Speaking of photos… celebrating November 1954



3 thoughts on “Essential Questions

  1. synapsesensations Post author

    Hi Christian,

    Ah, you ask an age old question – how to motivate students to learn. There are a number of posts on my blog that relate to motivation and you can see all of them here. (click the Motivation tag at the right)

    If you don’t feel like reading through them, here is what I’ve learned about motivation.

    1- The student has to want to learn what you are teaching.
    2- To help students want to learn, you need to tie into what they already know and then relate that to what you want to teach.
    3- If students feel there is a reason (that applies to them) to learn, they are more apt to be interested in learning.
    4- Students like to have some choice in their learning, be it in deciding the topic or how they will be assessed or other aspects of the process.
    5- Students have to know that you believe in them, and they want to be treated fairly. (Keep in mind that fair does not necessarily mean equal.)

    As for assessing progress, I am not a big proponent of testing. Rather, ongoing assessments that consist of projects, discussions, peer-to-peer teaching, and writing are my preferred methods. There is a wonderful book about assessments: Checking for Understanding by Fisher and Frey. The book describes a multitude of formative assessments, which are assessments to check for learning and understanding throughout the teaching process. The idea is that is you assess often and use a variety of assessment types, all students should be successful. In addition, you use the assessments to refine your teaching for the next day.

    I hope this has been helpful!

  2. ChristianK

    How do I motivate my students to want to learn?

    Should I formally measure whether my approach is working? If so, how do I measure success?

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