When you ask an open-ended question, how many valid answers might students come up with? Ten? One hundred? Thousands?
Personalized Learning thought leaders Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins argue in Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding that using “essential” questions can help drive inquiry processes that increase student ownership of thinking. According to McTighe and Wiggins, asking these deep open questions helps students “transfer their learning within and outside school.” Isn’t that the ultimate goal – applying school-learning to outside-of-school situations?
So what makes a question “essential?” Well, McTighe and Wiggins are pretty specific on what makes a question open enough to drive inquiry. Check out the first chapter of their book on essential questions and see how they reframe closed questions into open questions.