Design-Based Teaching

The Problem-Based Question (Part 1)

In the twelve years I spent in the classroom, my students participated in a variety of buzzword worthy creative lesson plans and student-led activities: Project-based learning, Genius Hour, and 20Time. Just to name a few. All of these lesson plans had several common goals, such as learning content-specific standards or allowing students the opportunity to develop a “student choice” project. Yet, after many years of experimenting with these types of lesson plans and activities, I found myself thinking: “Is it enough?”

I always felt like there was something missing from these types of student-led activities that were implemented in my classroom. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that any of the activities were not beneficial – it just wasn’t exactly what I was looking to have my students accomplish. The level of “real-worldness” was not what I felt like it should be. Something was missing…and I couldn’t place my finger on it.

Until now.

My students were not developing a true, problem-based question. A question that would be the foundation of all of their work. A question that would drive their learning while capturing their interest and relating to the real-world.

Perhaps you find yourself thinking, ”Wait, isn’t that the same as an essential question? I already do this!” However, there is a significant difference between an essential question and a problem-based question.

An essential question is a grade level appropriate question that is strongly driven by the content.

Some examples could include:

  • How is the circumference and area of a circle calculated?
  • How did the effects of World War 1 lead to World War 2?
  • How can a writer increase the tension in a piece of work?

These are great examples of essential questions and they have a time and place in the classroom. However, if I want to truly push my students to dive deeper and solve real-world problems, then I need a question that they care about answering.

So, I started asking myself – how can I develop AND help my students develop deeper questions that were truly centered on solving real-world problems and focused on student interest?  How do we develop something beyond the essential question?

Well…that is a question to be answered in next week’s blog post!  Stay tuned for Part 2! 🙂

3 thoughts on “The Problem-Based Question (Part 1)

    1. I love Socratic questioning! This was a huge part of my classroom when I was teaching students. In my classroom, students regularly participated in socratic questioning through tutorial groups and socratic seminars.

      1. Hi Ms Megan, I really admire the efforts and passion of you trying to create fun ways in order to improve your teaching practices. Even though I am not an educator, but I have learned something from your blog including the 4C’s interactive presentation tips which can be used during my presentation in university. To add on, I really love how you teach while focusing on real life problems. I took additional mathematics during my secondary school, and always feel uninterested in some of the topics as I think it only can be used in exams but not in real life. However, the digital games that you have created seem interesting to me as you have tried to relate it with a storyline. Thank you for the wonderful resources Ms Megan.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.