Curriculum-Framing Questions What Are Curriculum-Framing Questions? How Do They Help Teachers? How Do They Help Students?
What are Curriculum-Framing Questions? Curriculum-Framing Questions guide a unit of study and include Essential, Unit, and Content Questions Essential and Unit Questions: • Reflect conceptual priorities • Go to the heart of the discipline • Raise important questions across content areas • Have no single, obvious “right” answer • Are framed to provoke student interest Content Questions • Directly support content standards and learning objectives • Have specific “right” answers
What is the difference between Essential and Unit Questions? • Essential Questions: • Are broad in scope • Provide bridges between disciplines and units of study Example: How does conflict produce change? • Unit Questions: • Are tied to a specific topic or unit of study • Support and continue the study of an Essential Question Examples: How does stress on the environment impact evolution? How are changes in economics a factor in war? In the story, Charlotte’s Web, how do the animals’ different abilities help Wilbur survive and succeed?
Why Use Curriculum-Framing Questions? To target higher-level thinking skills • To require comparison, synthesis, interpretation, evaluation, etc. To ensure student projects are compelling and engaging • To require more than a simple restatement of facts To focus on important topics • To connect learning to other disciplines and other topics of study • To ask questions that have been asked throughout human history • To address compelling questions that students ask
What are Content Questions? Content Questions differ from Unit and Essential Questions: • Content Questions deal mostly with facts, rather than the interpretation of those facts • They typically have clear-cut answers Examples: How are volcanoes made? What is photosynthesis? Why is it cold in the winter when the sun is shining? How do you find the values of unknowns in equations? What is a fable?
How Do Essential Questions Help Teachers? They help teachers focus on important topics in their year-long curriculum and bring meaning across subject areas: • They raise important questions across content areas (Math, Science, Literature, History, etc.). • They center around major issues, problems, concerns, interests, or themes that also occur in other units. • Click here to see a video clip
How Do Essential Questions Help Students? They help to engage students: • Essential Questions bring meaning and focus to the study of events and topics throughout a project or course, which otherwise may seem arbitrary or unrelated. • They help students compare, contrast, and make analogies. • Questions are relevant, compelling, interesting, and are written in age-appropriate, student language.
How Do Essential Questions Help Students? • They engage students’ imagination and connect the subject with their own experiences and ideas. They help to engage students: • There is no one, obvious “right” answer, so students are challenged to explore many possibilities. • They encourage in-depth discussion and research, and set the stage for further questioning. Click here to see a video clip
What is the difference between an Essential Question and a Content Question? Click here to see how a team of teachers can use one Essential Question
How are Essential and Unit Questions Related to Curriculum Frameworks? Click here to see another sample
Practicing with Questions • Open the "Brainstorming Questions" document from the Module 1, Activity 4 folder on the Program CD-ROM. • Brainstorm with one or two people to complete the first set of Essential, Unit, and Content Questions. • Share and discuss the questions with the whole group. • In your small group, pick any other two to three sets of questions and fill in the blanks with your own questions. • Share your ideas with one other group.
Brainstorming Your Own Questions – Hints & Tips • When brainstorming Essential Questions: • Just start…don’t worry about the mechanics and language. Focus on brainstorming. • Determine what you want your students to remember from this Unit in five years. • You may want to write your question as a statement first, and then revise it into a question. • If needed, write the questions in adult language to capture the essential understandings, then rewrite in “kid” language. • When brainstorming Unit Questions: • Think about the questions your students ask each time you teach this unit, and focus on what they find most fascinating. • Be sure that even your Unit Questions have more than one obvious “right” answer — to target higher-level thinking skills • Keep asking the question students ask: “So what?”
Brainstorming Your Own Questions – Hints & Tips • After your brainstorming, share your questions with several colleagues and gather other ideas for revising your questions. • Continue to revisit and improve questions throughout the creation of your Unit Portfolio.
The Essential Question for the Intel® Teach to the Future Program How can technology be used as a tool for learning and not an end in itself? Click here to return to “Tips”