Essential Questions Chapter 4 and Personal Article

There are many different ways to teach, but that does not mean every method is effective.  When considering the question “How do we teach?” Chapter 4 in Essential Questions demonstrates that teaching can revolve around a layered structure.  Maintaining the theme of asking essential questions to yield the ‘understanding’ of a topic (chapter 1), this chapter outlines how teachers can implement essential questions in their lesson plans through either four-phase or eight-phase processes.  These processes force an environment that will encourage constant emphasis on the main essential question by having the students examine relevant evidence that draws parallels to the E.Q., eliciting responses from the students and then further probing the students to force them into a position to support their argument, and then ultimately assessing them.  In her article, How Looking at Student Work Keeps Teachers and Kids on Track, Katrina Schwartz illuminates that assessments are a great tool for providing feedback.  Not only does it allow students room for growth by understanding possible errors in their work, but it also provides teachers feedback by showing them whether students are getting the ‘big picture’ themes out of their lessons or not.  Our style of teaching should be one that encourages active participation and thinking of the core themes of a lesson.  If a student takes a position, then it must also be substantiated.  How we teach can determine whether ‘gradual release of teacher responsibility’ is achieved and whether our students develop a sense of autonomy in the classroom — demonstrating a near mastery of deep thinking and independence in the content matter.


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