Why write Essential Questions?

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 Links
all facts and activities to
help students understand the
real-world connections.
 Helps to answers the questions
that students ask:
• Why do I have to do this?
• When will I ever use it?
• What does it matter if I know this?
Good Essential Questions:
 Help create time-less units that
withstand changes in curriculum,
technology and relevance.
• Slide Rules
• Graphing calculators
 Help
teachers plan activities to make
them more relevant – guides
 Can be updated easily
 Make logical, real-life connections
 Encourage higher-order thinking
 Uses student friendly language; and
 Promotes investigation.
 narrow
the focus of the learning by
breaking the instruction into logical,
sequenced parts.
 communicate the crucial points of the
 communicate that students will
investigate, probe and search for the
answers, rather being dictated or simply
 The
degree of depth or complexity
of knowledge reflected in the
standards/learning expectations
and assessments
 How
deeply a student needs to
understand the content for a given
 Level
1: Recall
• Recall, recognition; skill, behavior, or sequence of behaviors learned
through practice and easily performed
 Level
2: Skill/Concept
• Engagement of some mental processing beyond recalling; the use of
information or conceptual knowledge; requires making some decisions
regarding how to approach a question or problem
 Level
3: Strategic Thinking
• More sophisticated reasoning and analysis; deep understanding; students
are required to solve problems and draw conclusions
 Level
4: Extended Thinking
• Requires integration of knowledge from multiple sources and the ability to
represent knowledge in a variety of ways; usually requires work over an
extended period of time
is about intended
outcome, not difficulty.
is a reference to the
complexity of mental
processing that must
occur to answer a
question, perform a task,
or generate a product.
Level 1 — Identify this
utensil. (fork)
 Level 2 — Explain the
function of the fork.
 Level 3 — Identify two
examples of when a fork
would not be the best
utensil for a type of food and
explain why.
 Level 4 — Design an
investigation to determine
the optimal number and
length of tines for a salad
Level 1 — Identify the tree.
Level 2 — Explain the function
of the leaves.
Level 3 — Explain how a
drought might affect the
growth of the tree.
Level 4 — Design an
investigation of seedling
growth to determine the best
fertilizer for this type of tree.
Be careful not to rely solely on the action verb;
verbs are not as important as the words that
follow them.
Consider what the task is asking the student to
 Example: “Explain to me where you live” does
not raise the DOK of a simple rote response.
 Even if the student has to use addresses or
landmarks, the student is doing nothing more
than recalling and reciting.