Book Review: Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding Jay McTighe & Grant Wiggins

I love the new C3 Framework from the NCSS. I think building a history class around 1. Developing questions and planning inquiries; 2 Applying disciplinary concepts and tools; 3 Evaluating sources and using evidence; and 4 Communicating conclusions and taking informed action is a fantastic way to make the learning real and engaging for students. Each step in the C3 Framework  provides meaningful opportunities for students that are applicable outside of the history classroom.

What I am not a fan of is how California took the idea of questioning and inquiry and created questions for their framework that were anything BUT compelling or engaging.

So when working with the new framework for California, I needed more help and guidance on how to develop questions for the inquiry process. Leave it to the awesomeness of Twitter to give me guidance:

Essential Questions by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins the missing piece in how I was approaching the C3 Framework and the California History Framework. The question of how to approach inquiry in the history classroom today has been a main focus of the department I am a part of. Just before break I had a conversation with another teacher about whether or not the inquiry model means you no longer teach content traditionally. We both felt hesitant about inquiry because our students need more structure than just: do projects every day.

What I loved about this book is that inquiry is not just project based learning, inquiry is a classroom culture. By using essential questions that are open ended, compelling, and timeless, you begin to establish an inquiry culture in your classroom. The book goes into more detail on how to create and use the questions and how to establish the culture.

What I loved most about the format of this book was that it gave examples of each step of the process for every single content area (art, performing arts, world languages, physical education, science, math, history and language arts!) 

This was one of those education books that had me opening up lesson plans and making immediate changes and revisions. I cannot wait to try the new Essential Questions I have made using this book and I am really excited to use the framework presenting in this book to create a culture of inquiry.

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Share in the comments!

Mrs. Kathryn Byars


  1. And..... 1 more book added to my summer reading list!


Post a Comment

Thank you so much for commenting! You can also reach out to me on twitter: @mrsbyarshistory

Popular posts from this blog

Why I Am Leaving Canvas LMS for Google Classroom

Grading Practices Mega Post

Lesson Reflection: Peardeck + What is History Class?