Why use essential question cubes?
Dear Amazing Teacher,
History should be more than memorization of facts and dates. You know this because you are reading this letter! History should help students understand how the past shapes the present and how we can better shape the future as active citizens. In order to understand the lessons of history, we need students to know the stories that make up history and the different and often competing interests and perspectives of those who authored those stories. Discussing essential questions will help students get to the deeper meaning of history, make sense of it, and apply it to the real world.
According to McTighe & Wiggins (2004)* essential questions:
+ have no simple “right” answer and are meant to be argued
+ provoke and sustain student questioning/inquiry
raise other important issues and questions
naturally come up again and again.
+ stimulate rethinking of big ideas, assumptions, and prior lessons.
Basically, they are power questions that really get our students (and us!) thinking. Because of this, use them over and over during a unit of study. I’ve given you 26 ways to use them, with each aligned with the Common Core State Standards - so you won’t run out of ideas for how to use them.
Because the questions ask students to interact and apply their understanding of the unit of study, the essential question cube activities are naturally differentiated, supporting language learners in expressing their current level of understanding. In order to support language learners, each set of cubes comes with a list of unit vocabulary words and sentence starters to assist them when expressing their understanding of the essential questions orally and in writing.
Each history topic comes with 3 different 6-sided cubes, a total of 18 essential questions (PLUS 2 BONUS questions in this set)! Duplicate cubes to make a class set! All questions and a blank cube are provided separately as well so you can create a custom cube for your specific student’s needs.
Print the cube on card stock, fold, and tuck and glue the tabs. Choose one of the 26 ideas on the next page and you’re ready to go!
Enjoy! - Trish
Drop me a line if you have any questions or suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org
*McTighe, J. & Wiggins, G. (2004). Understanding by Design: Professional development workbook. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: Alexandria, VA.