Ep 149: A 3-Step Strategy to Creating the Perfect Essential Questions for Your Literature Unit - EB Academics

Ep 149: A 3-Step Strategy to Creating the Perfect Essential Questions for Your Literature Unit

Looking for a way to help your students read literature with purpose and intention? Want your next unit’s text to feel relevant to your young readers? Well, the answer lies in creating the perfect essential question. Listen as Caitlin and Jessica show you how, in just 3 easy steps!

Caitlin and Jessica will explain how you can create helpful, meaningful essential questions by identifying a text’s topics and themes, determining a lesson you want your students to learn, and using questions to check the effectiveness of your question.

Then keep listening to hear an example of an unsuccessful essential question and how it can be improved on. You’ll walk away from this episode knowing how to write your questions, when to use them, and how to implement them with students. This episode is sure to help you tighten up your units and provide students with the focus and support they need!

Tune in now to hear:

  • [01:30] Why should teachers use essential questions? 
  • [01:50] Reason #1: Essential questions provide focus
  • [02:10] Reason #2: They allow us to hone in on specific aspects of ELA
  • [02:40] Reason #3 They aid students in finding relevant evidence
  • [03:30] The elements of good essential questions: meaning, intention, purpose
  • [05:00] Creating the perfect essential question — Step #1: Identify the topics and themes of the text
  • [05:20] Some common topics: love, power, greed, person vs. nature, technology and progress, human relationships, family and friendships, growing up, race and prejudice, death and mortality, social changes, abandonment and acceptance, etc.
  • [06:30] Step #2: Decide what lesson you want students to learn as they read the text. What is the deeper purpose of reading this piece of literature?
  • [07:20] Step #3: Use these guided questions to guide your creation of essential questions: “Does this question require my students to support their response with evidence from the text?” “Is this question going to encourage my students to analyze different perspectives?” ”Does this question allow my students to create thoughtful connections as they justify their claims?” “Does this question spark debate?”
  • [10:00] A real (poor) example using Christopher Paul Curtis’s Bud, Not Buddy. Jessica analyzes why it doesn’t work and how it could be improved.
  • [13:20] An example of a clearer, more effective essential question
  • [14:30] Using essential questions to build writing and argument foundations
  • [15:40] When should we give students essential questions?
  • [16:30] using an evidence tracker to help students’ record their evidence as they read
  • [18:00] Part of the EB Teachers’ Club? We include an essential question in each of our novel units! Join our waitlist to sign up when our membership next opens.
  • [18:40] Join us next week, as Caitlin and Jessica talk about bell ringers!

Click here to listen now!

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Then, pick the date you’re going to teach it in your classroom, and sit back while you watch as your students show up to your classroom pumped about what the day holds…and gush about your class to their parents on the car ride home!

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