Harry Wong
Dec 2017
Vol 14 No 4

Use “Essential Questions” to Improve Instruction

By Teachers.Net Community


“What are Essential Questions?”

Debbie Ann posted:

Essential questions are a part of the “Learning Focused Model” for planning that began 25 years ago and is growing strong. It is not a bandwagon per se because it isn’t a program, but rather a model for planning which is based on the research of many different educational researchers. The beauty of it is that when a district decides to develop lessons and content maps which are prioritized and taught using this model, there is a consistency that is pervasive across all levels. If a district uses this model, the consistency itself improves achievement levels. Consistency is the key but at the same time, we always “adapt not adopt,” which is a mantra of this planning model. So consistency is certainly the opposite of a bandwagon. But a district has to be wholly committed, which thankfully, my district is.

School Principal “MB” added the following information about Essential Questions:

Essential Questions

What are the most important concepts my students should learn from this lesson/chapter/unit?

1. Essential questions are concepts in the form of questions. Questions suggest inquiry.

2. Essential questions are organizers and set the focus for the lesson or unit.

3. Essential questions are initiators of creative and critical thinking.

4. Essential questions are conceptual commitments focusing on key concepts implicit in the curriculum.

Criteria for Essential Questions

1. Each student should be able to understand the essential question(s).

2. The language of the questions should be in broad terms.

3. There should be a logical sequence to a set of essential questions.

4. Essential questions should be posted in the classroom.

Writing Essential Questions

· What is your teaching objective?

· Write the objective as a question.

· Do you need smaller key questions?

· Rewrite if necessary to make sure learners understand the question(s).

Some examples of essential questions in…


1. How do chemicals benefit society?

2. Are animals essential for man’s survival? Explain.

3. Does South Carolina have reason to fear a natural disaster? Which ones or Why not?

4. What must a scientist do in order to research something?


1. When should I multiply? When can’t I multiply? When is multiplication most useful? Can multiplication make things smaller?

2. How is geometry used in the real world?

3. What is the role of geometry in advertising, architecture, or fabric design?

4. How would you explain, demonstrate, or draw the ________ process?

Social Studies

1. How have ancient Greeks affected our society?

2. Why would the Europeans want to come to the colonies?

3. Why did your textbook include _____ in this chapter?

4. How does the economy of a society depend on the geography of the region?

Language Arts

1. Why read?

2. What is the connection between reading and writing?

3. Do stories need a beginning, middle, and end? Why?

4. What does the “Berenstein Bears” teach us about life? [continued on next page]



Pages: 1 2 3

Comment on this article...

Next Article...
This entry was posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2011 and is filed under *ISSUES, January 2011, Teachers.Net Community. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
By State
AL   AK   AZ   AR   CA   CO   CT   DE   DC   FL   GA   HI   ID   IL   IN   IA   KS   KY   LA    ME   MD   MA   MI   MN   MS   MO   MT   NE   NV   NH   NJ   NM   NY   NC   ND   OH   OK   OR   PA   RI   SC   SD   TN   TX   UT   VT     VA   WA   WV   WI   WY