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Essential Questions

Started on Feb 12, 2013 by fakemidnight
Last post on Dec 08, 2016

In my district we are required to post essential questions in our rooms and have one for each lesson plan. Sometimes its one of the most difficult things to come up with. I thought if this is the case for you we could share some of your best here.

17 Keeps, 7 Likes, 11 Comments

  • fakemidnight 02/12/2013 at 06:08pm
    Here are some of mine:
    Can art truly capture an experience?
    Do artists have a responsibility to society?
    How can art connect a community?
    How can art perpetuate or diminish stereotypes?
    How do one’s experiences influence artwork?

  • RuthByrne 02/12/2013 at 06:37pm
    I have a few from teh lesson planning software that we use at my school. They're a bit odd, not totally suitable for posting for kids, but I'll list a few anyways:

    Why should I care about the arts?
    What is the difference between thoughtful and thoughtless artistic judgement?
    How does creating and performing in the arts differ from viewing the arts?
    To what extent does the viewer affect and influence the art and to what extent is art for the artist?
    How do underlying structures unconsciously guide the creation of art works?
    Does art have boundaries?
    Does art define culture or does culture define art?
    When is art criticism vital and when is it beside the point?

    So there are a few keepers in that mish mosh.
    I like the one that asks them to compare making and viewing.

  • artclasswithlmj 02/13/2013 at 10:28am
    I always enjoy asking questions that begin with "What is/are effective __________?" Fill in the blank with a technique, concept, thinking, ...or simply, my favorite, "What is effective creativity?"

    "What is art?"
    "What underlying elements help form artwork?"
    "When is art 'finished'?"
    "What's the point of ________?"

  • MrsImpey 02/16/2013 at 04:41pm
    If you're teaching younger students, in my opinion, essential questions don't have to be super thought-provoking. I graduated college in 2008 and we were required to have essential questions as well as objectives in our lessons/units, and the objectives had to reflect the essential questions. So, they can be as simple as:

    "What are the primary colors?"
    "How many kinds of shapes are there?"
    "What is good craftsmanship?"
    "What style of art did Van Gogh paint with?"

    These are accepted as essential questions by my administrators when I write lesson plans, and I teach K-6.

  • RuthByrne 02/17/2013 at 03:02pm

    Our school system read Jay McTighe's "Understanding by Design" to introduce ourselves to Essential questions and Enduring understandings, that book and the following resource tend towards questions that move the students beyond recall: project/Writing Essential Questions.pdf

    They can still center around concrete topics,
    For instance, instead of "What are the Primary colors?" It could be " Why is it important to know your primary colors?" Or "How can Primary colors be used in your art" Or "hypothesize the results of mixing primary colors and test your hypothesis" even "How can color evoke emotion?" So the questions require the students to know the concrete fact of red yellow blue & mixing, but then challenges them to think: why did I bother learning this?

    I agree that the questions should be within your age group's reach though. It's a challenging line to walk!

  • Hope200 02/24/2013 at 05:29pm
    In my district, they are all about language acquisition and test scores. We have had to write Know/Show/Level of Thinking on our boards for each lesson. Now, we are writing complete sentences and have to have the children repeat. (Even in art)
    So, if the lesson is on Value, the lead in question is "What is Value? Then, they must repeat, "I will know how to create 10 different values with my pencil," and "I will show my finished drawing with 10 values at the end of class." Supposedly repeating these two sentences increases learning by 23%. Sometimes I have each student repeat them individually and sometimes it is a choral response.

  • RuthByrne 02/25/2013 at 01:08pm
    interesting, Hope! In our district they ask for us to list objectives on the board...but It's kind of nice to also clue the kids on how they will show they have achieved that objective.

  • RuthByrne 02/25/2013 at 02:32pm
    Hope, i just went through some of my lesson plans and tried to suss out the know, show, "deep thoughts". It brought a lot of clarity for me about what I actually want the kids to take away. It's a simpler form than what we use for our units (learning objectives, assessments, and Essential questions) and also more specific since it's done at a lesson level.

    This was illuminating! I'm so glad you shared!

  • katherinedouglas 02/26/2013 at 04:40am
    I found this list on twitter this morning:
    Art Writing Prompts

    How are emotions raised by a work of art different from typical human emotions? (For example, is a “sad” painting different from another experience of sadness? If so, how?)
    Do photographs ever lie? How?
    Do photographs tell the truth?
    Is a viewer’s interpretation of a work as valid as the artist’s interpretation?
    If tomorrow you discovered that a great artist was an evil person, would the information change your feelings or interpretation of that person’s artworks? If so, how?
    How is the creative process in art similar to the creative process in science?
    Is there a relationship between artistic quality and time? Please describe that relationship.
    Are “Realistic” works of art actually realistic?
    Is art ever actually “new”? If so, how?
    Define the word realistic.
    Which is more descriptive, a text that describes an event or a work of visual art? Why?
    Do artists have an obligation to tell the “truth”? Why?
    Define art based on your personal experience.
    Are artists different from other people?
    Does a verbal explanation of a work of art really “explain” the work?
    Write your own personal art history. Begin with your first art-making memory.
    Can a work of art change the world? Heal it? Cause a riot? How?
    You are told that you have an artistic personality, what does that mean?
    Is there such a thing as “artistic genius”? If yes, please describe its development and characteristics.
    Describe how you move from being artistically “dry” to productive.
    If you could no longer see color, how would you express yourself as an artist?
    Is the “ART” primarily in the completed work or in the original idea?
    If you could no longer create art, what would you do?
    Why do you, as a young artist, “need” to create art?
    Some people say they hate art. Why do you think this happens?
    Can an object have artistic qualities and not actually be a work of art? Explain.
    Which is more important in a work of art, technical quality or emotion? Why?
    Describe the way that animation has changed due to the development of technology.
    Describe your personal “arting process” from idea to product.
    Describe the importance of painting in a world with digital photography.
    Is photography art? Why or why not?
    What is the difference between splattered paint on a wall and a Jackson Pollock painting?
    Maya Lin was in college when she created the Vietnam Memorial plan. Currently, a 14-year-old is selling paintings for thousands of dollars. Can young people create “great” art?
    Does art created during a time of war look different from art created during peacetime?
    Adolf Hitler tried to suppress the avant garde in Germany. Why would creative expression threaten a totalitarian leader?
    Does the amount of freedom in a society have an effect on the artwork produced in that society? Explain.
    How did the development of the rules of perspective change our way of seeing the world?
    Is art valued in our culture and community? Why or why not?
    Matisse’s Fauvist works were considered outrageous, now they are not. What changed?
    Would Leonardo da Vinci have used a computer if it had been available? How?
    Does the power of artistic expression fade over time?
    Does art created by women look different that art created by men? In what way(s)?
    Who could describe a major event more effectively, a writer or a painter?
    Can art change the way people feel about themselves?
    What is the difference between beauty and ugliness?
    Can boring people make interesting art?
    Can we ever understand someone else’s artistic expression? How?
    Is there a relationship between monetary value and artistic quality in a famous artwork?
    Is art that has been restored still the same work of art?
    Can art be simultaneously appealing AND morally corrupt?

    Thanks to Dar McClelland ?@Dar9 for the tweet!

  • Astabeth 02/28/2013 at 12:41pm
    I have a list I have been collecting for a few years. Some are guiding questions, some are more like essay prompts.

    What is art?
    What is considered art?
    Can kitch be art?
    What is beauty?
    To whom does art belong?
    Why does man create?
    In a given culture, who decides what is considered beautiful?
    Why is something considered beautiful by one person and ugly by another?
    What makes the difference between a photograph and a snapshot?
    How does the Eurocentric standard of beauty affect people of other cultures?
    Is artistic ability a natural talent or a learned and developed skill?
    Does art influence culture or does culture influence art?
    Is advertising considered art?
    Does art have to communicate a message?
    Why is it important to learn about art?
    How does your personal background influence how you judge art from other cultures?
    To what extent does subject matter influence an artist’s choice of medium?
    In what ways can different elements be used in an artwork to convey emotion?
    In what ways can different principles be used in an artwork to convey emotion?
    “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” What does this saying mean to you?
    List some things that you think are beautiful that other people may not. Explain why you feel the way you do.
    What makes a work of art great?
    What qualities do you think make a great artist?
    Leonardo da Vinci wrote that people should be able to look at stains on a wall and see marvelous images. What surfaces have you stopped and studied? What did you see?
    What scene would you choose as a background for a portrait of yourself? Why?
    “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” – Dale Carnegie. Do you agree or disagree with this quote? Why?
    “A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he gives up. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
    Most artists believe that drawing is seeing. What do you think they mean by this?
    Imagine you are only six inches tall. Describe what a walk through your locker would look like from this perspective.
    “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Explain why you do or do not agree with this.
    List as many holidays as you can then list the colors associated with each one. Tell why you think these colors are associated with each holiday.
    Some scientists say that creativity is what sets us apart from animals. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
    White reflects all color. Black absorbs all color. Do you consider black and white to be colors? Why or why not?
    Name a color that you dislike. Why do you think you don’t like it?
    Can colors express an idea? Why? Give an example.
    What is your favorite color? Why?
    Why are art museums important?
    Many artists and their works do not become famous until after the artist has died . Why do you think that is so?
    A drummer can produce different rhythms by tapping the drum at different rates. Describe how different rhythms can be produced in art.
    The introduction of cameras changed the demand for realistic portraits. How do you think computers will affect future art and artists?
    Thomas Hart Benton once said, “the only way an artist can personally fail is to quit work.” Do you agree or disagree? Explain.
    How can an artist help us understand other people?
    Do you think the size of a piece of art makes a difference? Explain.
    Vincent van Gogh said, “if you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
    “There is no life without arts, and no arts without life.” – Bounxou Chanthraphone. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
    “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris. What does this mean to you? Explain.
    “Less is more.” What did Ludwig Mies mean by that? Do you agree or disagree with him? Why?
    “It’s my art. Why should I care if people don’t like it?” – John Stewart. Do you agree with his statement? If you were an artist, would you feel that way? Why or why not?
    “Art is whatever you choose to frame.” – Adcock. Agree or disagree? Why?