This summer I participated in a couple of Twitter chats with Grant Wiggins (@grantwiggins). These chats focused on the idea of structuring lessons around Essential Questions. While I have structured my Western Civ ‘mini essays’ around big questions, I want to work on starting a unit with an Essential Question. Up to this point, I have only introduced the mini essay big question AFTER students have worked with sources.
Introducing the big question AFTER students have worked with sources, rather than before, goes against the best practices discussed by Wiggins and SHEG_Stanford.
Why have I introduced the question after the source work?
Part of the reason, I think, is that I am trying to incorporate source work into ALL, or most, of my lessons, often multiple sources. As a result, I am always finding, editing, and writing questions for sources that I want to use, often the night before a lesson. It is difficult to write an Essential Question (EQ) if you do not know the big picture of what sources you will be using. And I find that it is much easier for me to write an EQ after I have looked at the sources. Curious to hear how others approach this process.
Now, for our next unit, I am thinking an EQ that emphasizes the varied experiences, both positive and negative, of different groups during the English Industrial Revolution.
What will be my question? One possibility: Who benefitted and who struggled as a result of the technological changes that occurred during the English Industrial Revolution?
What am I going to do to make this experience with an Essential Question more meaningful?
I definitely want to begin the unit with students thinking about the EQ, having them express their initial reactions to it and generating sub questions that will help them grapple with the larger question.I will elaborate on this post when I finish grading...!