Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Essential Questions

I am wrapping up my unit on the causes of the civil war and wondering how I make it more broad and meaningful for my ELA students. How do I pose a question that we would like answered to day, and answer it by looking at the Civil War. I know its doable and I feel like I can do it and I'm touching on it....but what does it look like? How different would the class look? How would I still cover those (few) things that the curriculum is asking me to cover?

After CSAP Regina and I are going to plan our our "tearing down the walls" unit. It will be within our school. It will involve 10th grade IB Alegbra students and 11th grade ELA Social Studies. I think that if we get that Essential question down and figure out how to hold conversations and virtual projects between theses classes I will be half way to figuring out how answer these questions.

Also, looking at framing the umbrella Essential Questions that will frame the lens for the Science/Technology academy!

I'm beginning to see the importance and usefulness of Essential Questions. The Edge textbook by Hampton Brown/National Geographic does an amazing job of Essential Questions! I'm going to study it and find ways to do it on my own and make it feel organic!

1 comment:

Joseph Miller said...

I think you are posing the question of how do we learn to learn. I wonder if we create units around events (e.g. Civil War, WWI, WWII, etc...) we don't eliminate the opportunity to understand "process". Instead of teaching events, what if social studies classes were process-oriented. For example, "Conflict". In that case we could try to better understand the conditions that lead to civil war by studying conflict through time and space. We would need to find times/places where civil war erupted and times/places where it did not to completely understand the processes that lead to civil war.

In this case we would be trying to understand "civil war" (small c and small w), not "The Civil War". I believe if that was the approach we might able to better understand the processes that resulted in civil war/conflict today in Columbia, Burma, Sri Lanka, Somali, Chechnya, Darfur, Chad, Peru, Laos, and Turkey (to name only a few of the ongoing conflicts).

At any rate, I applaud you for asking the deep questions. This will not go unnoticed by your students later in life when they are challenged to solve problems.