Digging Deeper

An essential question covers the big idea or concept that the project is targeting. As stated in the previous tip, essential questions have no right or wrong answers. After teachers have focused on a particular essential question, they can have their students develop Probing or Foundation questions. These questions:

  • Are typically ‘What Is’ questions.
  • Provide the facts that help answer the essential question.
  • Help develop a list of keywords for searching the Internet.

Professional developers can model this process of developing probing questions with teachers:

  • Have teachers work individually or with a partner.
  • Brainstorm as many probing questions around one essential question.
  • Narrow the list of probing questions to six to eight questions.
  • Highlight specific words that they can use as keywords for research on the Internet.


Essential Question:
How might our lives be different if the popular vote selected the President?

Probing Questions:
1.What is the popular vote?
2.How does the electoral vote select the President?
3.What Presidential elections would have elected the other candidate if they had used the popular vote?

electoral vote, popular vote, president, candidate, elections, voting

Submitted by:Barbara Bray