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Big Idea and Essential Questions

September staff development essential

Terri Verhaegen

on 7 May 2018

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Transcript of Big Idea and Essential Questions

Assist students in gaining that deeper understanding of content and skill
Assist teacher in focusing their teaching on helping students gain that deeper understanding

Big Ideas and Essential Questions
How can Big Ideas and Essential Questions guide your units of study?
What are some of your unanswered questions?
What do you already know about using Big Ideas and Essential Questions in your classroom?
Building knowledge through content-rich
Reading, writing, and speaking grounded in
from text, both literary and informational
Regular practice with
complex text
and its academic language

strongly where the Standards focus
Think across grades and link to major topics within grades
in major topics: Pursue conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency and application with equal intensity
Instructional shifts in moving towards Common Core State Standards (CCSS):
Can you apply the "big idea" to more than one discipline?
Can you look at other grade levels and find similar or recurring "big ideas" around which to organize learning?
Will the "big idea" stand the "test of time"?
Will students remember this "big idea" long after they leave your classroom?
Will students be able to apply the "big idea" to their lives?
Big Idea Criteria Guidelines
The Big Idea...
...will promote in-depth understanding
...is concise: statement, principle, theory, generalization
...will emphasize the common characteristics of a unifying concept or theme
...is flexible in its application across disciplines
...uses the resources we have (i.e. textbooks, technology, etc)
Big Ideas - The Heart of the Discipline
Practice Examples - Non examples
Big Ideas
BIG IDEAS can be developed from:
Concepts -
Economics: it's not the money you have, but how you allocate it.
Themes -
Good triumphs over evil.
Debates -
Winning is dependent upon offensive vs. defense.
Life is shaped by your attitude; my cup half full or half empty.
Freedom involves responsibility.
Form follows function; you are what you eat.
Less is more.
Non-fiction texts always depicts truth.
concepts in the form of questions, which suggest inquiry.
organizers that set the focus for the lesson or unit.
initiators of creative and critical thinking.
worth asking in order to find deeper meaning.
not clear-cut. There are no right or wrong answers.
interesting to students by sparking their curiosity and sense of wonder.
more about in-depth learning than teaching.
relevant while engaging students in real life problem-solving.
Essential Questions are...
Causes genuine
into the big ideas and core content
provokes deep thought, lively discussion, sustained inquiry, and new understanding as well as more questions
Requires students to
alternatives and viewpoints, weigh evidence,
their ideas, and
their answers
Stimulates vital, on-going
of big ideas and assumptions
Sparks meaningful
with prior learning and personal experiences
A question is essential when it:
Essential Question Litmus Test:
Establish essential questions
that will lead students to the "big idea"
Assess student learning and modify further instruction
"Bundle" Common core standards
needed to teach the lesson
Establish the Relevant Goal
from content standards, course or program objectives, learning outcomes
Create lessons that will allow students to answer the essential questions
Create "Big Ideas"
(cc) image by nuonsolarteam on Flickr
Points beyond a unit to a larger, transferable ideas
Links one topic to other related topics and subjects
ex: Is it inevitable that history repeats itself?

Can be answered through the course of learning about the unit content and stay within the bounds of that subject
No single correct answer; answers can be defended from content facts
ex: How many ways can we achieve the sum of 23?
Two types of Essential Questions:
Overarching and Topical
Practice sorting
Big Idea
Essential Question
Not Essential Question
Now your turn: Using your current curriculum, determine a "big idea" and at least 2 essential questions to guide your next unit.
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