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Big Ideas and Essential Questions for Libraries


Big Ideas and Essential Questions for Libraries June 22, 2011 Today s Learning Goals Why big ideas and essential questions are crucial for libraries? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Big Ideas and Essential Questions for Libraries

Big Ideas and Essential Questions for Libraries
  • June 22, 2011

Todays Learning Goals
  1. Why big ideas and essential questions are crucial
    for libraries?
  2. What are the criteria for big ideas and essential
  3. Time to work with your colleagues to develop big
    ideas and essential questions for library.

Why big ideas and essential questions are crucial
for Libraries
  • Marzano guaranteed and viable curriculum 1 for
    school improvement and student achievement.
    Identifying Big Ideas for Libraries can connect
    the whole school.
  • Big ideas and essential questions guide feedback
    so students can make progress toward a key
    learning goals.
  • Big ideas and essential questions allow for focus
    on content that is relevant and applicable to
    real life in order to achieve motivation and

Big ideas and essential questions allow 21st
century learners to be successful
  • Core subjects content linked to meaningful
  • Thinking and learning skills Critical thinking,
    problem solving, creativity innovation,
    communication information , collaboration
  • Life skills- leadership, self direction
    responsibilities, accountability, ethics,
  • Technology Literacy access the world,
    information as your finger tip
  • 21st Century Content global, entrepreneurship,
    civic awareness, financial economic business
    literacy, health and wellness

Why are we focusing on big ideas and essential
questions? Students link all learning
experiences to key concepts already known or
experienced and new ones derived from real life
  • Not all expectations are created equal.
  • Learning without practical and meaningful
    application is quickly forgotten.
  • Understanding occurs when individuals seek
    answers to important questions and make
  • We need to know our students too! (what skills do
    they bring from elementary school?)

  • Since knowledge is infinite
  • focus on which concepts and skills will be needed
    in the 21st century if students are to become
    marketable, global citizens is essential.

Advanced Big Ideas 101
A big idea offers a conceptual framework
allowing the learner to explore answers to the
essential questions involving a unit of study.

- Grant Wiggins
What is a Big Idea?
  • A big idea offers a conceptual framework allowing
    the learner to explore answers to the essential
    questions involving a unit of study.
  • -Grant Wiggins
  • Answer questions like
  • Why exactly are we teaching?
  • What couldnt people do if they didnt
  • What do we want students to understand and be
    able to do 5 years from now?

(No Transcript)
How to identify the Big Ideas
  • Big ideas are typically revealed through
  • Focusing themes
  • On going debates and issues
  • Insightful perspectives
  • Underlying assumptions
  • Paradox/problems/challenges
  • Organizing theory
  • Overarching principle
  • Provocative questions
  • Processes- problem solving, decision making

Some Big Ideas by Type
Concepts Economics- Its not the money you have, but how you allocate it.
Themes Good triumphs over evil.
Debates Winning is dependent upon offense vs defense.
Perspective Life is shaped by your attitude my cup half full or half empty.
Paradox Freedom involves responsibility.
Theory Form follows function you are what you eat.
Principle Less is more.
Assumption Non-fiction text always depicts truth.
Can we do this for library?
Concepts APA Style focuses on the author and date of the work
Themes Information can be biased
Debates Wikis and blogs are valuable information sources
Perspective The quality of sources increases with the credibility of the author
Paradox Freedom of speech involves responsibility in the on-line world.
Theory Information is only useful if it is organized effectively
Principle Fewer clicks on a website increases useability.
Assumption Non-fiction text always depicts truth.
What are Big Ideas?
  • Is it relevant to other subjects or are they
  • Can students demonstrate progress towards it
    through some form of real world project or
  • Do you have to dig deep to really understand its
    meanings and implications even if you have a
    surface grasp of it?
  • Does it have many layers not obvious to the
    inexperienced learner? Is it an Umbrella term
  • Is it prone to misunderstanding, misconception,
    argument and/or disagreement?
  • Are you likely to change your mind about its
    meaning and importance over a lifetime?
  • Does it go to the core of the curriculum?

  • Is it historically important yet, still alive in
    the field for debate?
  • Is it transferable to new situations and
    learnings a student will meet in the future?
  • Is it abstract, not obvious?
  • Is it counterintuitive?
  • Does it allow students to ask and re-ask
    questions to clarify and uncover the idea as they
    go through the course?
  • Does it involve the six facets of understanding?
  • Does it promote development of an important skill
    required of life-long learners?

Big Ideas are
  • Why? or So what?
  • How is _____ applied in the world beyond the
  • What couldnt we do if we didnt understand

What the Big Ideas are not
  • A question
  • A concept or piece of knowledge
  • A narrow concept
  • Written as an objective/expectation of students
  • An activity (e.g. can sort French words into
    lists of nouns and verbs)
  • A skill can light a Bunsen burner

Advanced Essential Questions 101
An essential question is well, essential
important, vital, at the heart of the matter
the essence of the issue. - Grant Wiggins
  • A question is essential when it 
  • Causes genuine INQUIRY into the big ideas and
    core content
  • ARGUABLE provokes deep thought, lively
    discussion, sustained inquiry, and new
    understanding as well as more questions
  • Requires students to CONSIDER alternatives, WEIGH
    evidence, SUPPORT their ideas, and JUSTIFY their
  • Stimulates vital, on-going rethinking of big
    ideas and assumptions
  • Sparks meaningful CONNECTIONS with prior learning
    and personal experiences

  • Essential
  • What traits and characteristics determine a
  • Where do artists get their ideas?
  • What determines value?
  • What distinguishes a fluent foreigner from a
    native speaker?
  • How does where we live influence how we live?
  • Not Essential
  • How many legs does a spider have?
  • Did nature influence Monet?
  • How many dimes in a dollar?
  • What is the meaning of the Greek term technology
    from its Greek root techne?
  • Why were settlements developed around lakes and

Tips for Essential Questions
  • Cause genuine and relevant inquiry
  • Broad in scope, and provoke deep thought, lively
    discussion, inquiry, and more questions never
    fully answered
  • Pose authentic dilemmas
  • Force incongruities into our attention
  • Require students to consider alternative views,
    weigh evidence, support their ideas, and justify
    their answers
  • Stimulate vital, ongoing rethinking and
    meaningful connections of big ideas, assumptions,
    and prior lessons and learning timeless in
  • Naturally recur, creating opportunities for
    transfer to other situations and subjects
  • Perpetually arguablethe answers will change over
    time for students as they see them again in new
    subject settings and add new experience

You want them to see the big picture!
Next stepsLearning Goals and Success Criteria
  • The daily, monthly, unit Learning Goals should
    come from the Essential Questions that come from
    the Big Ideas.
  • Success Criteria are the evidence of achievement
    we would accept from a student to demonstrate
    their learning.

UbD has 6 facets of understanding that are used
to analyze the Big Ideas to get to understanding
Enduring Understanding has six facets
Self- Knowledge
Big Idea Jeopardy
  • Jeopardy.ppt

How do we identify the Big Ideas in Library?
  • Where do we go for these expectations since we
    dont have a curriculum document with overall
    expectations in libraries?

Documents we have
  • Together for Learning
  • Information Studies
  • 21st Century Fluencies
  • TDSB Research success
  • On Your Own
  • Research models like Big 6
  • Other jurisdictions attempts to create continuums

Revisit unpacking standards to big ideas AND
essential questions.
Students interpret, analyze, and evaluate
informational text in order to extend
understanding and appreciation.
  • Big Ideas
  • We interpret information and draw conclusions
    both from what we read and experience in life.
  • Knowing the difference between fact and opinion
    and inferences can help you become more
  • Essential questions
  • How do you determine if a main idea is
  • How can we decide if what we read is true or
  • Facts, opinion and inferences, why do they matter?

Revisit unpacking standards to big ideas AND
essential questions.
Relate data and facts from informational texts to
prior information and experience with assistance.
  • Big Ideas
  • Graphic displays of information supports
    comprehension and interpretation of information.
  • Prior experiences can impact the degree to which
    we relate to and interpret visual
  • Essential questions
  • How can information be represented through visual
  • How do some types of visuals better represent
    information than others?
  • What knowledge do I need to bring to the
    information in order to make meaning and sense of
    the concepts?

Collaboration Time and Tools
  • Using the documents available or search for
  • Identify the top 5 Big Ideas in Library that
    would encompass the skills shown on the
  • Using the Tips for Essential Questions from the
    PowerPoint to develop essential questions for one
    of your Big Ideas.