I have utilized the term ‘essential questions’ when creating lessons in the past. I like to know what the overall goal of a lesson is and the students must know where the project is going. Now, I have been introduced to the term ‘driving question’ and feel that it has more to offer, especially in the project-based learning environment.
Project Based Learning Online states that a driving question must be:
- open ended at the heart of a discipline or topic
- from real world dilemmas that students find
- consistent with curricular standards and frameworks
Essential questions are not given the same definition. They are more specific and task-orientated. The term driving question offers the notion of a linear path or guide, which I appreciate as both a user of PBL and a teacher of young students.
I have drafted a driving question for my Fire Safety Project. I look forward to learning more this semester and refining my ability to write the driving question for a PBL project. For now, my question is:
- How can I be safe around fire?
My question is open-ended and summarizes the reason for our fire safety unit. Although there are several standards being addressed, helping children be safe in the world is a life-skill that each grade level must address. Students are generally interested in this topic because of their interest in firefighters, firetrucks, and fire itself. There are many different ways to go about answering this question, creating a challenging learning experience for young children.
My sub-questions that are needed in order to answer the driving question are:
- What does fire look like?
- What damage can a fire cause?
- How does a fire start?
- What does a fire need to burn?
- Who can help in the event of a fire?
- What steps should I take when I see fire?
- What items are considered dangerous because of their relation to fire?
- How can I escape my home in the event of a fire?
- How can I escape my school or other public buildings in the event of a fire?
- How can I be safe when outdoors and near a fire pit/burning pile?
- What should I do if my clothes catch fire?
- What should I do if I find dangerous, fire-related items?
I consider my use of PBL in the classroom to be a learning process. I have no doubt that my driving question will change and develop over this semester. I look forward to gaining new resources and becoming more knowledgeable in the are of PBL.