Friday, 14 September 2012

Essential Questions

In a recent post, When a Unit Doesn't Go So Well..., I listed thoughts that were going through my mind about what reasons there might have been. I've been thinking about those on and off over the past week as we start our new unit. Our cross campus team debrief/reflection for the learning to learn unit is still a couple of weeks away.

It occurred to me that I didn't add the Essential Questions to my list of possible reasons why I felt the unit didn't go so well. Maybe they weren't engaging enough. Maybe they didn't point in a clear enough direction for thinking about answers.  So I looked again at the questions that our team decided on at our meeting way back in April.
Essential questions should be essential. 1. How does my brain work? - Is it essential that a 10 year old knows how the brain works?  The way it's written, I think that is way too big a question for grade 5 -  people spend years trying to find out. We only have a couple of weeks!

2. What does my brain have to do with learning? I know what we were aiming for but it's not a wildly exciting question....

3. What can I do to get the best out of my brain? It already got tweaked at our first planning meeting of this year. This is more along the lines of what we're wanting students to get from this unit.

4. What are my responsibilities as a learner? It's OK but it doesn't grab you! And maybe it is redundant if Q3 is really well understood by students. It IS what we want students to be thinking about.....

So now I'm wondering if we can do better... Below are my thoughts today which I'll share with my small campus team and see if we can improve on the originals. And then we'll share cross campus. A small group feeding off each other's suggestions is the way to go to get the best questions, I think. Wordsmithing is vital, too.

How can I show how amazing my brain is? - I like the word amazing. It does presumes our brains are amazing - but I think for grade 5s that's probably OK.

How amazing is my brain?  - I like this better
How awesome is my brain?

How can I change my lifestyle to help my brain work best? - Hmmm...

How can I make myself smarter? - This sounds good. I like "smarter."

What habits do smart people have? - Have to think. Could be good. How would students go about finding out? Would that be too hard...?

Can I make myself smarter? How? - Yes or no answer, but it does have a "How" so that's OK...

If you read this and have suggestions please let me know!

Photo is my own.

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