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"Lintroduce the essential (question atthe beginning ofthe nit ad try to reinforce it often. write Ion a big pice of paper ‘above the door. Ihave students put ton the tile age of their Interactive ‘Student Notebooks. ‘And I constanly refer to it when we detrisf an activity” = High Schoo! Techer ‘Students prepare thee ctor fore press conference where Isto figures wi debate te ase ‘question, Can propio bo rustoato gore ‘Step 1. Develop an essential question forthe unit. Determining relevant and engaging question to pose to students tthe beginning of unit sounds deceptively simple. Even though itis just a single question, it what defines the focus of your entire unt. Prioe to crafting an essential question, itis imperative that you have already determined your unit topic, nartowed is scope and emphasis to reflect key standards and learning outcomes, and gathered resources you might include. The esential question, then, will help you determine which lessons and ‘content shouldbe included inthe unit, and will also determine the focus of your Ia tesson or topic des not help students answer the essential question it should ‘not be included Just sin the movies iFascene does not move the pot forward it ends up onthe editing-room floor. Thus, the question help you focus your efforts, ‘make tough choices, and ensure that you—and ultimately you: stdents—have a ‘lear sense of how all the parts ofthe unit come together Criteria for a Good Essential Question Not all essential questions are equally elective. Here are some criteria to conser when determining the essential ‘question for unit ‘Does it move students ta decper understanding of the standards addressed {nthe unit? An essential question must be crafted so that it provides students fan opportunity to reach a deeper understanding of key standads If the focus of| the question is too narrow, it may not push student to fly synthesize what they have learned. For example, fra unit on civil rights, the question, Wha roles did ‘Malcom X and Martin Luther King ply during he cv rights movement? ‘certainly focuses on two key figures who are likely mentioned in your standards, However, tis too narrow to bring into play all the essential concept and content you will over in the unit, an students may espond by cing facts rather than synthesizing the information. A better question might be, Was the cv right ‘movement sucessful? This ives students the chance not only te tell what happened to whom and how, but also to evaluate the impact of those events. 228 ing emning avo! TL, 2 Ole {sit provocative? The very wording ofthe essential question should provoke students to reflect and want to start responding, A ‘cautious question will not entice students to argue, whereas bold question sustains