I have many new insights from a recent online class from @PBLUniversity about key elements in a powerful driving question. The DQ for the class: How can I define and refine Driving Questions that capture the main focus of the project and engage students?
‘A Driving Question (DQ) is like a road map that will help students determine how they will reach their destination in a project. However, just like roads may lead us in different directions, a well-written driving question will not have a prescribed path that students must take. A good driving question captures the project’s main focus. It is open-ended, challenging, and linked to the core knowledge, skills, and understanding that students must gain in the project.’
Create a series of subsidiary questions in conjunction with your overarching Driving Question!
...To focus the students on the project task.
...To scaffold the project process for the students.
...To help teachers design lessons that will scaffold the project process for the students.
A Driving Question should be:
1. Engaging for Students: It presents a challenge, frames a controversial issue, or poses a question that interests kids. It is written in language they understand, and provokes them to ask further questions kicking off the inquiry process. [A local context and/or a challenge to take action makes DQ even more engaging. Connect to a local issue, community need, or topic relevant to kids’ lives.]
2. Open-Ended: Several reasonable “right answers” are possible. Answers are not “Google-able.” Answers are complex and lead to an in-depth inquiry. It could be a “yes or no” question, but the answer must require a detailed, thorough explanation.
3. Aligned to Learning Goals: Students will need to learn important content/skills in order to answer DQ. Consider,“To answer this question, will my students need to learn the content and skills I’ve targeted?” Actual content goals do need to be stated in the question. They can be made clear when students learn about the requirements for the product(s) to be created.
Some examples of revisions & refinement of DQ’s...
FROM: What did the ancient Greeks contribute to the development of Western Civilization?
TO: Did the ancient Greeks help make us who we are today?
TO: How Greek are we?
FROM: Which stories and books are the most popular for people our age?
TO: What makes a story or book popular?
TO: How can we create an online survey for kids our age to find out which stories and books are the most popular and why?
The Tubric is a fun, hands-on way to practice the often-challenging task of writing a Driving Question for a project. (downloadable here!). Looking forward to more classes coming up starting this week, and free again, through @PBLUniversity!