Friday, March 14, 2008

Essential Questions

I've been thinking about how to use Essential Questions to make American History more appealing to students who are not from the United States. I'm planning a unit on the Civil War. I'm bored by the Civil War. I became a Social Studies teacher because I enjoy looking at people....not dates or battle fields. This unit in our curriculum is all about the Civil War and wants the emancipation proclamation and a battlefield described. I've put off creating this lesson because I'm bored by just thinking about it.

I began thinking about the bigger issue.....what is the thing that is timeless about the Civil War? ...not the causes....the actual war itself.

I did what I do best, I had a conversation....several conversations about what this essential question(s) could be. I sat down with one of my assistant principals, Kevin Greeley, asking if I could have a conversation with him about "instruction." We discussed that dates may not be that important for my students....but the ability to connect the material to their lives is important. I have students from Egypt, China, Somalia, and Mexico. All of these countries are closer to Civil War than I have ever been.

I took the things we talked about and talked with Joe Miller. For spending the first part of his career outside of education, he has amazing insights. He is our director of Assessment and the Global Learner Guru of Technology.

Through these conversations, I've finally narrowed the questions down:

What effect does civil war have on people?
What is the definition of civil war?

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1 comment:

Joseph Miller said...

Great discussion yesterday! I think your students will be inspired by looking at these traditional subjects in a new way. Can't wait to get involved in the conversation.