Essential Questions

Essential Questions and Telling Our North Dakota Stories

Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins have brought essential questions to the forefront of education in recent years. These are big idea questions that have no easy answer. Instead, students explore and develop answers throughout a series of learning experience. An example of an essential question for a poetry unit might be this: How do poets use literary techniques to convey emotion in their poetry?

Essential questions are especially effective when students develop answers using a variety of learning activities, weaving together multiple strands of the state standards. For students writing their own North Dakota stories, consider this essential question about setting:

How does where you live influence how you live?

Students can develop their answers to this question both by reading fiction and nonfiction stories and discussing the impact the stories’ settings had on their characters, as well as by writing their own story, using North Dakota as the setting. To answer one essential questions, students read, write and speak/listen, satisfying four of the state standards strands (reading literature, reading informational text, speaking and listening, and writing).

Here are a few other essential questions that might work well with a ND story writing project. All are taken from these sites:

How does knowledge about an author’s personal experience impact the reading and interpretation of their work?

How can I use characters, setting, dialogue, conflict and descriptive detail to develop a well-written story or script?

How can I use poetic techniques, figurative language, and graphic elements to create a poem expressing my ideas?