EQ Institute


“Questioning what we think we know is psychologically difficult and learners predictably resist it. We prefer the comfort of the known and the expected. A true education releases us from our blindness.”

— GRANT WIGGINS: A Master Teacher, A Lifelong Questioner, A Dear Friend 

 PowerPT Slides: EQs ASCD May 2015

PDF Files: 1.Samples of Essential Questions   2. EQ Framework Examples  3. Sample Units and Frameworks  4. ap-seminar-curriculum-framework   5. EQs help, tips, flawed exs.

Today’s Meet URL: https://todaysmeet.com/EQ

Drafting Ideas: Focus of Unit

Generalizations: Your Generalizations of EQs

Essential Questions Development:

Essential Question Criteria: To what extent does the EQ…

  1. cause genuine and relevant inquiry into the big ideas of the core content?
  2. provoke deep thought, lively discussion, sustained inquiry, and new understanding as well as more questions?
  3. require students to consider alternatives, weigh evidence, support their ideas, and justify their answers?
  4. stimulate vital on-going rethinking of big ideas, assumptions, prior lessons?
  5. spark meaningful connections with prior learning and personal experiences?
  6. naturally recur, creating opportunities for transfer to other situations?

Advice on Role of EQs: New Rules for the “School Game”

Quotes come from Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s book on Essential Questions (ASCD, 2013)

1. Clarify the goal of what an essential question is designed to do — the aim is sustained inquiry and rich discussion increasingly facilitated by students, not a hunt for “the” answer that the teacher thinks is correct.

  • Engagement is not something you can give to students. They have to be active participants.
  • “You may find that you are re-considering things that you thought you understood. That is normal – even desirable.”

2. Learning is “messy” — have to make mistakes, change your mind, deepen connections through listening, contemplating, and speaking to justify or support ideas.

  • “Questioning what we think we know is psychologically difficult and learners predictably resist it.”
  • “Inquiry is not a spectator sport: each of you needs to listen actively and participate.”
  • “Making mistakes is an expected part of learning. If you never take a risk of making a mistake, you’re not likely to improve.”

3.  If you value risk-taking and making mistakes then the environment needs to be designed to demonstrate that.

  • “If participants don’t feel safe, part of a team, or that their contribution is valued; if students fear looking stupid because both teacher and peer comments tend to fear insecurity; if teacher grading systems reward factual knowledge only, then it doesn’t matter what teachers say or what the official code of conduct is.”
  • “We must overcome in ourselves — and help our students overcome — the fear of looking and sounding foolish in the face of uncertainty.”
  • “As Adler (1983) said, a prerequisite for successful dialogue ‘is the furniture in the room’ which should be ‘the antithesis of the lecture hall.”

4. Measure what matters: if inquiry is a valued goal then students should be given feedback and guidance based on critical thinking.

  • “Any hope of changing beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors concerning thinking and inquiry will require us to develop assessments that practice what essential questions preach.”
  • “Simply stated, we must assess the student’s ability to question, probe, and to respond to high-level questions with evidence and argument.”

Advice on How to Use EQs: Response Strategies

Wait time. Using this technique to provide students more time for students to process and build off of one another’s ideas.

  • 10 seconds for Native English speakers
  • Up to 60 seconds for English Language Learners

Think and Share. Listening, writing down thoughts, and engaging with others without the facilitation of the teacher.

  • Brainstorming responses in small groups
  • Think-Pair-Share
  • Fishbowl
  • Socratic seminar

Class survey. Revealing disagreement to encourage articulation of ideas based on evidence.

  • Technology (e.g. Poll Everywhere, Poll Daddy)
  • Four corners (vote with your feet)
  • White boards
  • Thumbs up, thumbs down

Probes. Pressing students to dig deeper into the evidence/data to articulate and substantiate conclusions ­­– demonstration of why they think what they think.

  • What do you mean by________?
  • Can you elaborate? Tell me more.
  • What are you assuming when you say that?
  • How do the data support your conclusion?
  • How does that square with what ___________ (e.g., text, peer) says?
  • Is it really either/or? Might there be different “right answers” or ways of thinking about this?

Inviting Students’ Questions. Providing opportunity for students to form questions that are both interesting and in line with the larger goal of the unit or course.

  • Make student questions visible — visually putting them on a physical or virtual wall (e.g., Padlet), repeating the question and honoring time for class to think aloud
  • Provide individual opportunity to pursue questions

Video Resources

Web Resources

What is an essential question? Blog post by Grant Wiggins:  http://www.authenticeducation.org/ae_bigideas/article.lasso?artid=53

Videos and Examples of Essential Questions: http://www.essentialquestions.org/

Compilation of state, district, school, and other organizations’ work: http://jaymctighe.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/UbD-Websites-10.13.14.pdf


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments