Thursday, February 2, 2012

Essential Questions at SLA

Recently, I've been doing a lot of thinking about the role of essential questions in curriculum design. My reflection and study has led me to believe that learning experiences should be organized around meaningful questions, not isolated discipline-related or skill-related criteria. Of course, my visit to Science Leadership Academy (SLA) for Educon 2.4 this weekend affirmed my current beliefs. At this school, the curricula is driven by meaningful questions and themes at each grade level. Most important, the students at  SLA are cognizant of these questions and themes, and they were able to eloquently discuss them when asked.

How could you use this concept to redesign learning for the students in your classroom? your system? your district?


  1. Hey Pal,

    These essential questions caught my eye last year too. I love that they can -- and do -- translate across domains and play a role in the work that every teacher and student does during the course of a course.

    That kind of connectedness -- of core values, of ideas, of content -- matters to kids. It brings a relevance to the work that they're doing.

    More importantly, it provides a rallying point for interdisciplinary conversations. In traditional schools, teachers of different disciplines have so little in common that their conversations about instruction are phony at best.

    Core questions build community -- for everyone.


    Rock on,

    1. You bring up a really good point that I hadn't considered before. Framing curricula around esential questions also creates unity and coherence regarding the mission of the school. If everyone believes that the ultimate goal is to answer the essential questions using content as a "lens," then everyone's motivation to work together is enhanced. Building community through the construction of coherence. I love it. Thanks for stretchiing my thinking on this!



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