Essential Questions

For Middle Level & Elementary


To deepen thinking


  1. Print the following questions on small cards (could be laminated).

    Essential Questions
    WHAT'S HAPPENING? Asks for a description of an event, incident, experiment, etc. Students state what they noticed
    WHO SAYS? Asks for evidence and sources of the information
    HOW COME? Asks for causation-what made this happen
    SO WHAT? Asks for significance-what importance this has
    NOW WHAT? Asks for application-what we can do with this information, what might happen
  2. Give each student a copy of the card.
  3. At various times, everyone gets out the Essential Questions Card and responds to one or more questions in writing. Times for use during a topic discussion:
  • At end of class-whole class responds
  • After reading something
  • After a video


  • After reading Chapter 3 in our novel, answer: What's happening (retelling)? Now what (prediction)?
  • At the end of a unit on weather ask, So what? (What is the significance of understanding weather patterns?)

Use Essential Questions for:
Student writing and research
Homework processing
Partner discussions
Small-group discussions

Printed cardstock, laminated or non-laminated

A few minutes or more

Related Activity Type: 
Engaged Learning Strategies