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From the book: Essential Questions by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins (371.39 McE 2013)

Essential Question                                                                                              Not Essential Questions

-How do the arts shape, as well as reflect, a culture?                                 -What common artistic symbols were used the the Incas and Mayans?

-What do effective problem solvers do when they get stuck?                     - What steps did you follow to get your answer?

-How strong is the scientific evidence?                                                        - What is a  variable in scientific investigations?

-Is there ever a "just" war?                                                                           - What key event sparked World War I?


Seven Defining Characteristics of Essential Questions

1. Is open-ended; that is it typically will not have a single, final, and correct answer.

2. Is thought provoking and intectually engaging, often sparking discussion and debate.

3. Calls for higher-order thinking, such as anaylsis, inference, evaluation, prediction. It cannot be effectively answered by recall alone.

4. Points towards important, transferable ideas within (and sometimes across) disciplines.

5. Raises additional questions and sparks further inquiry.

6. Requires support and justification, not just an answer.

7. Recurs over time; that is, the question can and should be revisited again and again.


Objective from Alberta Education's Program of Studies, Grade 6, Topic E - Trees and Forests


Describe characteristics of trees and the interaction of trees with other living things in the local environment.


Based on our discussion of big/interesting/essential questions how could you turn this into a more interesting question?

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