Essential Questions

  • Title:Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding
  • Author:Jay McTighe, Grant Wiggins
  • Publication Date:April 2013
  • Grade Level:K-12
  • ISBN:9781416615057
  • Publisher:ASCD

Unlock the big ideas in your curriculum and unleash your students' thinking skills with essential questions. Authors of the popular Understanding by Design framework explain why essential questions help you

  • “Unpack” standards and organize your curriculum around big ideas and core processes.
  • Engage more students in thoughtful inquiry and discussion to promote deeper understandings of content and a culture of inquiry.
  • Signal to students that deep thinking about content is required, not optional.
  • Develop independent learners and foster 21st century skills.

Offering dozens of examples, the authors explore the usefulness of essential questions in all K–12 content areas, including skill-based areas such as math, PE, language instruction, and arts education. Their guidance and strategies ensure you know how to

  • Identify characteristics that make a question "essential.
  • Use essential questions to “unpack” standards.
  • Design effective essential questions working from many sources including standards, desired understandings, and potential student misconceptions.
  • Use essential questions as a focus for daily classroom instruction.
  • Support respectful and meaningful differentiation.


Author Bio

Jay McTighe brings a wealth of experience developed during a rich and varied career in education. Jay is well known for his work with "thinking skills”. Jay is an accomplished author, having co-authored eleven books, including the best-selling Understanding by Design series with Grant Wiggins. He has written more than thirty articles and book chapters, and has published in a number of leading journals, including Educational Leadership (ASCD) and The Developer (National Staff Development Council). Jay has an extensive background in professional development and is a regular speaker at national, state, and district conferences and workshops.

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