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  1. Essential Questions What are they and how do you write one?

  2. What Is an Essential Question? • A question you have to think critically to answer. Instead of simply looking up an answer, you need to conduct research and create an original answer.

  3. An Essential Question… • provokes deep thought. • solicits information-gathering and evaluation of data. • results in an original answer. • helps students conduct problem-related research. • makes students produce original ideas rather than predetermined answers. • may not have an answer. • encourages critical thinking not just memorization of facts.

  4. Types of Essential Questions • Which one? • How? • What if? • Should? • Why?

  5. “Essential vs. Traditional Questions" • Not Essential: • “What is it like to live in Hong Kong?" • Essential • Which city in Southeast Asia is the best place to live? • Not Essential: • “What is AIDS?" • Essential: • Which serious disease most deserves research funding?

  6. “How Questions" • Example: What are some sustainable solutions to environmental problems in your neighborhood, and how could they be implemented?

  7. "What if Questions" • What if questions are hypothetical, questions which ask you to use the knowledge you have to pose a hypothesis and consider options. • Examples: • "What if the Cultural Revolution had never happened?" • "What if students didn’t have to go to school?”

  8. "Should Questions" • Should questions make a moral or practical decision based on evidence. • Examples: • "Should we clone humans?“ • "Should we discontinue trade with countries that abuse human rights?"

  9. "Why Questions" • Why questions ask you to understand cause and effect. "Why" helps us understand relationships; it helps us get to the essence of an issue. • Examples: • "Why do people abuse drugs?" • "Why is the death rate higher in one Third World country than another?"

  10. Skinny vs. “Fat” Questions • What are Fat Question? • Open-ended questions, which can be argued and supported by evidence. • Examples: • Skinny Question: "When was the Declaration of Independence signed?" • Fat Question: "What would have happened had we not signed it?”

  11. How do you write an essential question? Consider the focus of the unit or lesson activity: • Digital Dossier • Digital Citizenship • Digital Footprint • Cyberbullying • Bullying

  12. How do you write an essential question? Ideas for a good essential question: • may stem from your particular interests in a topic (e.g. If you were a victim of cyberbullying, what would you do?, community resources (How is your school dealing with bullying?) • Begin with the 6 typical queries that newspaper articles address: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? • From these questions formulate your essential question. • Use: Which one? How? What if? Should? Why?

  13. Student Example Developing an Essential Question • Five Supporting Questions about Muhammad Ali • HOW did he influence the Civil Rights Movement? • WHAT were the main reasons for him not going into the military service? • WHEN did Ali decide not to participate in military service? • WHAT was the public reaction when Ali did not join the military service? • WHAT were his punishment for not joining the military when he was required under the DRAFT? • ESSENTIAL QUESTION • How did Ali influence other people of his race and the Civil Rights movement when he refused to serve in the Military because of his religious beliefs?

  14. Examples of Essential Questions

  15. Examples of Open-ended Questions • How would you…? • What would result if…? • How would you describe…? • How does…compare with…? • What is the relationship between…? • What would happen if…? • How could you change…? • How would you improve…? • How do you feel about…?

  16. Examples of Open-ended Questions • Why do you believe…? • What is your opinion of…? • What choice would you have made…? • What would you do differently? • Why do you feel…? • How would you go about solving the problem…? • If you were in this position what would you do? • Why do you/don’t you support…? • What could improve…?

  17. Questioning Resources • Asking Essential Questions • The Key to Understanding Essential Questions • Themes and Essential Questions: Framing Inquiry and Critical Thinking • Asking Essential Questions