Access to Internet resources can open a world of new information to you and your students, but access alone is not enough. To be an effective user of the Internet, you need skills and strategies for navigating through thousands of sites and millions of Web pages. Finding good sources of information for your curriculum requires a plan. Before you start a search, figure out what you are looking for. To begin your course Project, you will pick a topic about which you will write one or more essential questions.

What Is an Essential Question?

Students have to think critically to answer an essential question. Instead of simply looking up answers, they conduct research and create an original answer. An essential question:

    1. provokes deep thought.
    2. solicits information-gathering and evaluation of data.
    3. results in an original answer.
    4. helps students conduct problem-related research.
    5. makes students produce original ideas rather than predetermined answers.
    6. may not have an answer.
    7. encourages critical thinking not just memorization of facts.
    Examples: Mexican grey wolves are nearly extinct in their natural habitat of the Southwest. Many people advocate reintroducing them into the wild, whereas others show concern for livestock and fear that the wolves will be a detriment to their livelihoods. Should Mexican grey wolves be reintroduced into the wild? Substantiate your answers with facts.

    What qualities should a good teacher possess?
    Should students' Internet and email access be limited in any way?

Jamie McKenzie has written extensively about using essential questions to free students and teachers from relying only on activities that target the lower levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.

When students are challenged with essential questions, they stay on task because they are so intent on answering the question that they have no time to do anything else! A Questioning Toolkit has in-depth information about essential and other forms of questioning to use with your students.

Learning to Ask Essential Questions

In an environment that stimulates essential questioning, no one has the right answer all the time. Students and teachers become problem solvers together. You can encourage essential questioning by replacing "what" questions with "how" and "why." "How" and "why" questions require more than a simple yes or no answer.

In Filling the Toolbox: Classroom Strategies to Engender Questioning, Jamie McKenzie recommends that teachers ask students to think of questions that could be asked about a particular topic. encourage students to put questions into different categories, such as "why" or "how to."

have students write questions about material they are covering in class.
teach problem-solving strategies.
establish a classroom climate that encourages questioning.

Essential Questions and the Internet

What do essential questions have to do with the Internet? Essential questions teach students to use the Internet without wasting time on unproductive Web surfing. Teaching students to ask essential questions will help them be more critical of Web resources and more discriminating about the information they use.

More Resoures: (from Cynthia Sinsap on NCTE-Talk)

  • Google Search Results
  • Excellent powerpoint presentation of curriculum mapping how to do it, and how it works along with the other curriculum materials (curric guides and standards). This has a good overview of mapping and essential questions as it ties to standards (if the link still works!)
  • Revising and Refining the Curriculum Maps
  • Curriculum Map Review Guidelines Essential Questions....

    Guiding Questions

    Guiding Questions