What's the Big Idea? : Question-Driven Units to Motivate Reading, Writing, and Thinking

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Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2010-02-02
Publisher(s): Heinemann Educational Books Ltd
List Price: $31.25

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Customer Reviews

Practical Advice for English Teachers  August 7, 2011
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Here are lessons and advice based on successful experiences with a wide range of Jim Burke's students, all based on the concept of using inquiry as the foundation of units, lessons, and learning. This important textbook is supported by superb graphics, online access to handouts and organizers, and useful appendices.

What's the Big Idea? : Question-Driven Units to Motivate Reading, Writing, and Thinking: 4 out of 5 stars based on 1 user reviews.


''Many people have written about how theory (or research) relates to practice; Jim is one of those rare professionals who live the relationship.'' - Arthur Applebee , NAEP advisor, Validation Committee member for Common Core, Author of Curriculum as Conversation

His book is rich with insights from other scholars and teachers, woven together in a convincing web of argument and insight. But the book is just as rich in classroom experience, using the wisdom of the expert practitioner to focus his arguments on the lives of his students-in all their richness and complexity.

Why a book about questions? "Because when students' instruction is organized around meaningful, clear questions," writes Jim Burke in What's the Big Idea? "they understand better, remember longer, and engage much more deeply and for greater periods of time."

Jim shows how making essential questions the center of your teaching can ease the tension between good teaching and teaching to the test while giving students dependable, transferable tools for reading, writing, thinking, and participating in the real world. Going in depth on his own units for frequently taught books, Jim shows how to plan lessons, units, and even entire courses around big ideas to help students:

- grapple with content and deepen comprehension through reading, writing, and discussion

- make learning stick by connecting it to texts, to students' experiences, and to the world

- clarify and extend their thinking by learning which questions to ask and when

- improve school and test performance by honing academic language and skills.

"Although no one thing can ever be the solution to all problems," Jim writes, "this book demonstrates the ways in which questions can address your concerns and develop in our students the mental acuity and fluency necessary to succeed in school and at work, as well as to achieve a sense of purpose in their personal lives." The only question now is, Are you ready to change your students? learning and lives?

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Why Do Questions Matter in Curriculum?p. 1
An Introduction
An Intellectual Rite of Passagep. 22
Engaging Students with Essential Questions
Spirited Inquiryp. 46
Creating Questions to Access a Challenging Text
Natural Curiosityp. 74
Using Questions to Explore Relationships
Meaningful Conversationsp. 130
Essential Questions as a Way into Required Texts
Using Essential Questions to Design Your Own Unitsp. 154
Some Final Thoughts
Of Mice and Men Chapter-by-Chapter Reading Notes and Questionsp. 162
The Academic Essentials Planning Gridp. 169
The Big Questionsp. 170
Designing a Standards-Based Curriculump. 176
Unit Planning Sheetp. 180
Works Citedp. 181
Study Guidep. 184
Indexp. 193
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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