Essential questions added to curriculum mapping

Written by: Ellie Harris, Opinon Editor

Adam Barton

Adam Barton

NPHS students know their school corporation is focusing more on curriculum mapping because of their teachers’ absences over the past few school years. However, as of last week these changes are beginning to more directly affect students inside the classroom. A new requirement is that teachers at some point  include what some call “Essential Questions.”

“Essential questions help teachers assess how much students are learning from the curriculum so that teachers have information on how to improve the curriculum in the future,” NPHS assistant principal Adam Barton said.

Teachers who teach the same class – for example, Greg Greene and Gina Iacobucci who both teach government -will now work together to construct more open-ended test questions that can measure growth.

“The purpose of having teachers write questions together and grade questions together is to allow teachers the opportunity to learn from each other. We have a number of great teachers who use this style of questioning already so our staff development time can be used to make those questions better and the grading of those questions more consistent,” Barton said.

Students may not even notice these changes because a lot of teachers are including them in chapter tests and other assignments.

I have been implementing essential questions into my unit tests. They tend to take the form of short answer questions with three parts. If students are able to thoroughly answer these questions, then it demonstrates their understanding of the content,” NPHS AP U.S. history teacher Shelby Livengood said.

This addition to curriculum mapping could change test taking for future classes.

“Over time, curriculum planning may shift to include essential questions as the primary format for formal assessments,” Livengood said.

These questions are supposed to help prepare students for post-high school life more than a multiple choice question might.

“The technology that we use every day like Google, Siri, and Alexa changes what we need to know and memorize,” Barton said, “Essential questions take us to the next level of understanding so that students can explain what they know and apply what they know to real world problems.”

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