Driving Questions Part 2: A Gold Mine of Ideas to Bring Out Student Inquiry

7/12/2017 12:10:00 AM

Welcome to this second post in a series that promotes student inquiry in PBL and STEM. This series is dedicated to helping educators create a student-centered Driving or Investigative Question… which is so important in STEM and PBL. You will discover multiple resources and ideas in this series, along with some great ideas for facilitating student success in student owned inquiry. In this second post, I would like to provide ideas for both designing and reflecting on Driving Questions. Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS, and also give me a follow… on Twitter at mjgormans. I promise you will find some wonderful information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet. Also remember you can book me for a conference or your school district with workshops that are informative, engaging, and practical. Check out my Booking Page and as always… thanks so much!  Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Quick Notes

I will be presenting at Alan November’s BLC in Boston in July. I have three pre-conference workshops that you may want to register for. They include; One-Half Day PBL Splash, Full Day PBL Starter; and a One-Half Day Technology Workshop dedicated to amplifying standards and process using Technology. I will also have three concurrent session during the main conference. As a member of Alan’s Team all year, it is a lot of fun to meet so many people from around the world at his summer conference in Boston. Learn more at the conference master classes page.

Driving Questions Part 2: Gold Mine of Ideas to Bring Out Student Inquiry 

I really hope you liked my last article on Driving Questions in PBL and STEM. In that article I related “What” Driving Questions are, “Why” they should be included in student lessons and “How” they can promote student inquiry. You can read more about this in my last post. In this post, I would like to provide even more information that will help you understand and use Driving Questions as a source of inquiry in your classroom. I do hope you enjoy and can use these three themes I have provided when working with Driving Questions.

A Selection of 10 Other Types of Questions Used to Promote Inquiry

First, please understand that a Driving Question could be called other things. The bottom line is that it allows for open-ended inquiry. The term Driving Question is often used in PBL because it drives the project. I often call it the Investigative Question because it is the starting point for student investigation.  I like to say it is the IQ of a project. Depending on the project, lesson, or activity you may see these other terms that I have listed below. I am sure you can see how these all have the capability to drive a project.

  • Essential Question
  • Focus Question
  • Guiding Question
  • Probing Question
  • Inquiry Question
  • Challenge Question
  • Design Question
  • Smart Question
  • Investigative Question
  • Inquiry Based Question

The 15 Points to Consider when Creating and Vetting a Driving Question

Next, it is important to examine the construction of a Driving Question. As stated in my last post the Driving Question promotes inquiry that will uncover important content standards. It does not name the standards, but instead provides for a vocabulary that students can understand. As students progress, they may even write their own Driving Questions with guidance of the teacher to keep them within the constraints of the standards. I often tell people there are various things we must consider before writing a Driving Question. After writing a question this same list can be used to vet. Please enjoy the list I have provided below.

  • Topic is relatable by students
  • The outcome is authentic and meaningful
  • It must allow the student to engage in real research
  • The answer is multi-faceted
  • Students have voice and choice in outcome
  • Wording goes beyond education lingo
  • It has a direct relationship to final project
  • Question is as concise as possible… and to the point
  • Content standards can be uncovered
  • Students can come up with NTK’s (Need To Know(s))
  • Students can understand the question
  • It allows for student passion, engagement, and interest
  • Students see relevance, authenticity, and purpose in a real world question
  • Students can work on deepening & expanding Q/A (convergent/divergent thinking)
  • Students are provided a “So What?” in the question (Why are we doing this?)

20 Driving Question Opportunities that can Help Frame a Project

Last, a Driving Question can provide numerous opportunities. There are so many times that it seems PBL and STEM activities are built around solving a problem. Yes, a Driving Question can solve a problem…  and it can also do so much more. The next time you design a project, activity, or question I suggest that you consider these other themes. It can open up a whole new world of possibilities for you and your students. Can you think of even more… or perhaps can your students?

  • Provide a Challenge
  • Seek a New Design
  • Look for a Solutions
  • Campaign to Convince Others
  • Call for Change or Movement
  • Create and Test a Hypothesis
  • Make a Difference
  • Examine a “What If” Scenario
  • Facilitate Innovation/Creativity
  • Make a Call for Action
  • Suggest Change
  • Solicit Others
  • Provide Help and Assistance
  • Expand an Idea
  • Create an Opportunity to Celebrate
  • Start a Movement
  • Educate and Teach Others
  • Encompass an Overarching Theme
  • Invoke a Debate on an Opinion
  • And yes… Identify and Solve a Problem

cross-posted at 21centuryedtech.wordpress.com

Michael Gorman oversees one-to-one laptop programs and digital professional development for Southwest Allen County Schools near Fort Wayne, Indiana.  He is a consultant for Discovery Education, ISTE, My Big Campus, and November Learning and is on the National Faculty for The Buck Institute for Education.  His awards include district Teacher of the Year, Indiana STEM Educator of the Year and Microsoft’s 365 Global Education Hero. Read more at 21centuryedtech.wordpress.com.

comments powered by Disqus

Copperas Cove Independent School District Adds Another 200 Boxlight Interactive Projectors

Lawrenceville, GA – July 27, 2017 – Interactive projectors...

SIIA Announces 2017 CODiE™ Award Winners for Education Technology Industry

35 awards given for education industry innovation and excellence

Renaissance Star 360 Approved as a K-2 Assessment by the Arkansas Department of Education

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (July 26, 2017) – Renaissance®,...

VitalSource and Macmillan Learning Team Up to Provide Enhanced Digital Solutions

New collaboration provides enhanced digital solutions for a broader po...

itslearning Certified by IMS Global Learning for OneRoster 1.1

Leading LMS Provider Ensures Schools and Districts Have Reliable and ...

Schools in Four Countries Renew or Expand Online Course Offerings from The Virtual High School

Students from Turkey, Switzerland, Mexico and Brazil Join Learners fro...

ETIN Releases Guidelines for Research on Educational Technologies in K-12 Schools

Changes in education technology and policy spur updated approach to in...

T&L Partner Post
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

(www.acer.com) The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

(www.britannica.com) Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...


(www.classflow.com) Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

(www.adobe.com) Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...


(www.boxlight.com) The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

(www.edmentum.com) Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

(www.hmhco.com) HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...


(www.lightsailed.com) LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...


(www.myon.com) myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

(www.nervanix.com) Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...


(www.robotslab.com) RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...


(www.waspbarcode.com) Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

(www.opened.io) OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

(www.panasonic.com) Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

(www.penveu.com) The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...


(www.califone.com) Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

(www.proquest.com) ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

(www.averusa.com) AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...


(www.averusa.com) AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

(www.extron.com) The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

(www.smarttech.com) The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

(www.gaggle.net) The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

(www.waterford.org) Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

(www.netsupportschool.com) The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...


(www.techsmith.com/camtasia) TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

(www.panasonic.com) Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...