Essential Questions

An essential question guides the process and the development of meaningful, authentic tasks. This process takes time and is a difficult concept for teachers and students to understand. Guide your teachers through this process by sharing information about essential questions, providing some examples, and modeling the brainstorming activity.

1. An essential question:

  • often involves a moral or ethical dilemma and/or address issues of bias or perspective.
  • has no right or wrong answer
  • probes for deeper meaning and sets the stage for further questioning
  • centers around major issues, problems, concerns, interests, or themes that are relevant to your students' lives
  • can cover several disciplines

2. Some sample essential questions

  • What is the best strategy for reducing the impact of acid rain in the United States?
  • How does the use of voice enhance a story?
  • How might our lives be different if the popular vote selected the President?

3. Use a program like Inspiration to brainstorm possible essential questions around a topic or concept on which you would like to expand. Go to Inspiration to learn more about how to use this program for brainstorming.

4. For ideas on creating and asking essential questions, go to Creating Essential Questions or Asking the Essential Question

Submitted by:Barbara Bray

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