Grant Wiggins is a proponent of essential questions.
"Essential questions are designed to challenge preconceived notions and force students to stretch their thinking, using course content to support and inform answers. In doing so, students discover meaning in the content."


  1. How much power should the Federal Gov. have? (9/11)
  2. Whats the proper balance between privacy and national security? (Japanese Internment; First Amendment discussions;)
  3. When, if ever, should people go to war?
  4. How do you measure success?
  5. How does geography shape a country?
  6. What are the challenges of diversity?
  7. What is the proper balance between the common good and religion? (Mosque debate)
  8. Is it better to be independent or interdependent? (Civil War)
  9. How should Americans deal with the gap between the rich and the poor? (class warfare)

Answers can change over time with additional evidence....

Characteristics of Essential Questions:

  • Axis for learning and additional research
  • Self-Leveling
    • Life experiences are different
    • Where you get your information is different
      • Newspapers
      • TV
      • Other people (who do you trust)
      • Authors and books
  • Dynamic Tension

Contact to get session materials--