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Curriculum-Framing Questions

Creating Effective Questions

Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Curriculum-Framing Questions
How can I create more effective questions? How can these questions help guide my teaching and unit
planning?

How can I help others develop good questions?

Copyright 2006, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Research On Learning and Cognition


Expert knowledge is organizedTheir knowledge is not simply a list of facts and formulas that are relevant to the domain; instead, their knowledge is organized around core concepts or big ideas that guide their thinking about the domain.
Bransford, et. al., How People Learn, p. 24

Copyright 2006, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Why Do We Have Essential Questions?


Simply applying technology to tried-and-true projects can
lead to less learning.

The use of technology should enable students to enhance

their learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity so we should provide them with more challenging tasks and questions than provided in traditional projects. synthesis of the subject matter not just identification, definition, or reiteration of facts.

Projects need to include reflection, evaluation, analysis, or

Copyright 2006, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Why Do We Have Essential Questions?


Technology is most powerful when used as a tool for problem solving, conceptual development, and critical thinking. With technology, students can spendmore time creating strategies for solving complex problems and developing a deep understanding of the subject matter.
The Learning Return on our Educational Technology Investment by Cathy Ringstaff and Loretta Kelley, WestEd

Copyright 2006, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Asking Questions is Contagious

It promotes authentic learning, which encourages students to ask more questions. Students are more likely to become self-directed learners because they are interested in the answers. Students see the connections between the subject being taught and their worldit can change their whole outlook on what education is about.

Copyright 2006, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Dealing with the Yes, but


I have to teach to the test

To develop competence, students must:


Have a deep foundation of factual knowledge Understand facts and ideas in a conceptual framework Organize knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and application

I have to cover so much

Teaching for understanding is key to recall Instead of aimless activity and superficial coverage, focus on goals related to big ideas and complex performance Move beyond micro-managing instruction via overly-fragmented and isolated lessons and activities
From Understanding by Design Workshop
Copyright 2006, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

How Do Content, Unit, and Essential Questions Support Learning?


Sample objective Content Questions Unit Questions Essential Question Project

Students will be able to identify an ecosystem and explain how the How do I collect information and display it in a graph? What urban animals are there and what do they need to survive? How can urban wildlife and humans live together successfully? How can we all get along? Using actual wildlife injury data from a local wildlife rescue center,
students learn what animal species have been injured, the causes of injury, and the effects of reduced urban wildlife. Students provide recommendations to reduce human caused injury to wildlife and present a summary of their findings and recommendations to the local Audubon Society, the Humane Society, neighborhood associations, and other interested groups. At the end of each public presentation, students gather public reaction to the data, and publish the findings and ideas in an informational brochure for the public.

organisms within an ecosystem are connected and interdependent.

Copyright 2006, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

What is the Difference Between Essential and Unit Questions?

Its not the question itself that defines whether it is an Essential or Unit Question, its how you use it. How does conflict produce change? could be used as either an Essential or Unit Question:
It would be an Essential Question if used as a year-long guiding question in a Social Studies class that covers such units as World Explorers, the Industrial Revolution, World War II, etc.

It would also be an Essential Question if it is used in a cross-curricular classroom or classrooms, such as language arts/social studies classrooms that discuss different aspects of the question.
It could be a Unit Question if used just within a specific unit, such as evolution.

Copyright 2006, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

How Different Unit Questions Support a Single Essential Question


What does it take to change the world?

Early Explorers Unit Question:


Why leave ones home and family to make a new life in a strange land?

Civil War Unit Question:


French Revolution Unit Question:
What could move the masses to revolt? How did the French Revolution change their world and yours? Why would someone fight to the death against brother, neighbor, and friend?

Copyright 2006, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

How Different Unit Questions Support a Single Essential Question


How does conflict produce change?

Social Studies Unit Question: How does war create change in the economy? Language Arts Unit Questions: Science Unit Question: In literature, how do the
characters in Lord of the Flies respond to conflict?

Why do humans often react to conflict with violence?

How do animals adapt to a changing environment?

How does Lord of the Flies help us to understand our complex human nature?

Copyright 2006, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Hints for Writing Essential and Unit Questions

Brainstorm questions on your own, then work with other teachers, or your own students, to refine them. There tend to be more How and Why Essential and Unit Questions than those beginning with What, Who, or When.
Stay away from questions asking for definitions or an understanding of a simple process.

Ask yourself if the question has basically only one, or one narrow group, of correct answersif it does, it is not an Essential or Unit Question.
What is the life cycle of a frog? Who was Mozart?

Will it take time to fully understand and answer the question?

Is the question still being studied by scientists, philosophers, or poets? If yes, then you probably have a great question.
Copyright 2006, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Hints for Writing Essential and Unit Questions


Not so simple, but important, tips

Think about why that topic is important to teach. Think about the compelling questions that scholars have asked throughout time. How have human beings acquired the knowledge that we now want to impart to our students?
Why is the universe the way it is?

How does this subject fit into the real world?

What connections can you make to the students lives?


What makes my body work? What can I do to keep my body healthy and strong?

Copyright 2006, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Step 1b: Determine Goals

What is the end product, the learning objectives, that you want students to achieve?
What will students be able to know, do, and understand as a result of this experience?
Revisit Questions Step 1a: Determine Goals

Step 2a: Develop Questions

What open-ended Unit Question could be asked to promote higher-order thinking skills?

The Creation of Good Questions and a Good Unit is an On-Going Process

Step 2b: Develop Questions

What CS are you targeting? What higher-order thinking skills are you targeting?

Re-check goals

Are your questions still relevant? Can they be revised to be more helpful in focusing student learning and activities?
Step 4: Design Activities

What big-picture Essential Question could be asked to promote higher-order thinking skills?

Step 3: Plan Assessment

What rich learning experiences, activities, and teaching will promote that learning? How will you engage your students? Copyright 2006, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.

How will students provide evidence that they are achieving understanding? How will you assess that evidence throughout the unit?

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Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Programs of the Intel Education Initiative are funded by the Intel Foundation and Intel Corporation. Copyright 2007 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel and Intel Education are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. *Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.