PBL Series: Driving Questions: Students Uncovering Content… Gateway To The Common Core Inquiry


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Welcome to a series of posts devoted to the use of Project Based Learning. I know you will find new information… whether you are an experienced PBL user, or brand new. In this post I address the concept of “Driving Questions”  I know it is a read you will enjoy and share. I have even included some amazing links including some to the BUCK Institute (BIE). They are the international leader in promoting PBL.  To ensure you do not miss one of these valuable posts or other resources covering Web 2.0, STEM, 21st century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. As always,  I invite you to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on. Have a great week – Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Quick NoteQuick Note – Please feel free to join me for a free webinar this Tuesday (4/09) at 8:00 PM EDT entitled Creativity in the Digital Classroom Hope to see you there! I have been getting a lot of requests asking if I will make a visit to your school, organization, or conference. Please be aware that I am available to assist you in providing professional development and presentations. I have had the opportunity to network in person across the country and invite your inquiry at my booking information page and at mjgormans@gmail.com.

Driving Questions: Uncovering Amazing Content Under Through Inquiry

I really like Diving Questions. In fact, I like them so much more then Essential Questions. You might ask why? I think it just might be my affection for the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. You may remember that in the revision the different levels were changed into action. In fact, I strongly believe that learning is a verb and is based on action. Take away the word “Question” and Driving is a verb loaded with action. The word “Essential” standing alone is only a word devoted to describing… a colorful but inactive adjective.

Another reason I am fond of “Driving Questions” is that they allow students to work together in the amazing process of divergent thinking. As students bring this process around to identify answers and ideas that finally converge, they are suddenly back on the path to even higher order divergent thinking. It is amazing to watch students become aware that answers can bring on even more questions. Seems to me that it is a lot like moving up Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Of course, I believe that one of the intents of the common core is to provide students the opportunity to take part in real inquiry and research. If the question is Google-able then it probably is not deep inquiry. Now, using advanced Google skills to find answers that create more questions fits the bill for common core skills. Literacy that is built to comprehend, analyze, compare, contrast, and make meaning of nonfiction across the disciplines is essential. Take a look at portions of standards educators must facilitate with students. These really do sound like some great inquiry action that can be found on the super highway of Driving Questions.

  • RI9 “Analyze a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic…”
  • SL2“Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats…”
  • W9 “…Draw evidence from literary or informational text to support analysis, reflection, and research…”
  • W7 “ Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including self generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration…”
  • W8“Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively…”
  • W1 “…Support claims with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources…”

You can find many of these related ideas at the Common Core State Standards Initiative linked here.

Last,  I like “Driving Questions because there are  so simple, that they can be difficult to construct. Let me explain. The Driving Question in Project Based learning is often the hardest concept to get across to teachers. Even after a workshop devoted to PBL… questions will come across my email asking for help in constructing and refining the Driving Question.

Writing The Driving Question For Student centered Learning In PBL

Why are driving questions so difficult? Perhaps it is the powerful and simple concept they ride upon in a world where teachers have been taught to use so much of their “educationese language” Educators must work at being aware of the important standards in their content area without blurting them out. It is at this point that educators come across that often talked about idea of of uncovering, not covering, the standards.  Educators are so often told to practice this methodology, but are seldom told how to do it.

This is the power of the Driving Question and its importance in PBL. The Driving Question must be simply stated so that students can uncover the content standards themselves. The Driving Question should not give away the contents standards which students may not really care about. It should engage the students and create wonderment through relevancy to their world. It should drive them to “uncover the standards” Through carefully planned PBL the teacher then facilitates this learning experience. The added bonus of building important 21st century skills is a natural outcome. In order for students to “uncover the standards” they will need to communicate, collaborate, think critically, and provide creative thought.

Resource Links For Learning More About Driving Questions

Please feel free to explore the links below to even better understand the Driving Question. Also on the pages that follow you download the beginnings of my rubric for assessing your DQ. Any feedback you have would be appreciated. Enjoy the Tubric that was created from the awesome people at BIE. That’s right… it is a tube and a rubric designed to create Driving Question. You may even wish to look at the video.

Edutopia Links For DQ

Thank you for joining me in this PBL series on “Driving Questions”. I hope you found this formation something you can use in your school and to share with other educators.  As always , I invite you to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit.   Watch for other posts in this series!  To ensure you do not miss one of these valuable posts or other resources covering PBL, STEM, 21st century learning, and technology integration please sign up for21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Drive To Inquiry! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

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