Essential Questions and Inquiry using Novels
The new curriculum wants teachers to have students use inquiry to help them learn. I think a fantastic way to use any book is to think about why we read books. All books we choose should help students with the "Big Ideas" around why we have them read what we have them read.
Essential Questions give kids a bigger idea to connect with when they are doing their work. Using two or three essential questions to guide a set of literature circles, means any book can be used. It doesn't matter the theme. Then the books support the inquiry.
Work through the Inquiry Steps
The essential questions = The Wonder
Investigate the topic (read the Novel)
Construct new meaning (Answer the questions)
Express your learning - How does your novel relate back to the questions, represent in a variety of ways
Reflect by writing new questions you now have about the topic Use an Inquiry Journal, iThought book, blog about it
Connect to other knowledge – Why does it matter now?
Repeat with a new novel, add to your undertanding of the question(s)
Here are two links to lists of Essential Questions you could use to create an inquiry literature unit:
Day of Reading.org
Essential Questions for Literary Themes
Developed by Secondary English Department – Greece Central School District, NY
More links to More Essential questions at inquirybuddies.com
Practice Inquiry Model with novels by starting with picture books:
Fairy Tales Comparison - Inquiry - the following link is a detailed plan to use cutural fairy takes to complete an inquiry that uses the following essential questions to guide their learning:
How do different cultures shape the definitions of good and evil?
What is the role of a hero or “sheroe” (coined by Maya Angelou) in a culture?
What is the relevance of a fairy tale to today’s society?
How have fairy tales opened our eyes to other cultures?