Questions about Questions: NCSS and UbD

Name: Thompson, Kelsie

Topic: ID

Citation: Wiggins, G. (2014, December 8). Questions about Questions: NCSS and UbD. Granted, and… ~ thoughts on education by Grant Wiggins. Retrieved August 5, 2020, from

Background: This post comes from a blog entitled Granted, and… ~ thoughts on education by Grant Wiggins. I discovered it while exploring various web pages about the C3 Framework – an instructional approach founded on inquiry to promote college, career, and civic life readiness for students – as it was mentioned as a helpful resource for those who want to learn more about designing and implementing inquiry in social studies well. The inquiry design model is fundamental to the C3 Framework, as is collaboration and experimentation by educators who want to try this approach out for themselves. I became familiar with the C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards during my undergraduate pedagogy and history courses, as well as the importance of creating good questions, so I am eager to share this helpful resource!

Summary: In a nutshell, this blog post exists to help educators navigate the process of designing meaningful essential/compelling and supporting questions as they and their students prepare to embark on an inquiry journey. In this post, Grant Wiggins, co-author of Understanding by Design, explains the differences and similarities between the language used by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), which published the C3 Framework for Social Studies, and his own book in defining these types of questions. In doing so, Wiggins offers valuable insight into the traits and functions of good supporting and compelling/essential questions, as well as the process for creating them. Wiggins uses a variety of examples to demonstrate this process to the reader, which includes discussing the challenges that can arise and how to match the wording of each question to its intended purpose.

Evaluation: I found this post to be very insightful, thoughtful, practical, and overall well worth my time to read. There is clarity, detail, and vitality, making this a fascinating and highly readable piece. It is evident that Wiggins has extensive firsthand experience with writing questions, has clearly studied this topic closely, and bases this post on other credible, reputable sources, which lets me know that I can rely on this information. I strongly believe that asking good questions transforms learning and is a trait of a lifelong learner, so I think this post and the C3 Framework in general contribute well to those ends. I feel inspired to use this post to create my own reference sheet for question-making, and it is my hope that my fellow educators on here will benefit from learning more about writing good questions, too.

Project Based Learning Across the Curriculum, by Acacia Warren.

Name: Stephanie Desmarais

Topic: PBL, 21st Century Learning, School Reform


Warren, A.M., 2015. Project based learning across the disciplines. Corwin Publishing Company.


The author of this book, Acacia Warren was a former teacher and school principal. Her work focuses on engaging her own school and student community in ways that were meaningful for students. Her text stands as a framework for teachers, principals, school librarians and anyone wanting to implement a PBL strategy. In addition to providing a framework, her approach weaves in ways to consistently and meaningfully incorporate academics such as literacy, life skills, common core standards, 21st century skills and technology, while also engaging students.


This book is an excellent tool for all types of educators. Implementing PBL can seem like a daunting and intimidating task, however Warren makes it accessible to anyone willing to thoughtfully plan and collaborate. The text includes many templates for the reader to use as they read, and also provides plenty of examples. It is formatted in a user friendly manner, with the first chapter dedicated to explaining the whys of PBL as well as how iftfits into the +1 Pedgodgy.

What does “Deep Learning” mean? One researcher looks for concrete examples…

Summary: Educational scholar Dr. Monica R. Martinez researched eight public schools to discover the most successful methods and theories for promoting deep learning in the classroom (Martinez, 2015). Building on the principle of interpersonal connection, Martinez argues that students need to have practice supporting their peers’ successes. In addition Martinez claims that making learning meaningful to students’ lives involves bridging the gulf between the classroom and the community. Educators and librarians can do this by connecting students with outside communities, professionals, and relevant learning spaces outside the walls of the school like non-profit organizations and civic institutions. 

Opinion: Martinez’s approach in visiting and recording what is going on in public schools is admirable! It is so easy to overlook the small successes and the meaningful learning experiences that are happening out there. Her article gives educators hope about effective learning taking place across the country. By focusing on the positive, Martinez is collecting pearls of wisdom from contemporary educators in the trenches. While none of the insights here are particularly “new” or “novel,” by focusing on concrete and real experiences of public education, Martinez is grounding important concepts in the dynamic of lived experience. After reading her article, I am even more excited to read her book.

Martinez. M.R. (2019). 6 Powerful Strategies for deeper learning in your classroom. (Teacher Thought). Retrieved from:

Fake News Alerts: Teaching News Literacy Skills in a Meme World

Taylor, Diana

ID – Media Literacy

Ireland, S. (2018). Fake news alerts: Teaching news literacy skills in a meme world. The Reference Librarian, 59(3), 122-128.

Summary: In this article, Ireland addresses the need for students to have the skills to be able to decipher whether information is true or not. In today’s fast paced world of technology, most information is sent in less than 100 words, and readers view it as true. Ireland suggests that librarians can make their own memes and infographics to provide visual information to combat it. This article covers memes, what is fake news, identifying fake news, identifying reliable news sources, accessing sources, addressing bias and logical fallacies, and how to stop being part of the problem.

Evaluation: This was an excellent article on how librarians can help address the issue of fake news with students. Ireland provides us with all the necessarily terminology to discuss fake news and provides resources to post in the library for students to view.

Manifesto for 21st Century Teacher Librarians


Pamela Graham

Kasman Valenza, J. (2010). Manifesto for 21st century teacher librarians. Teacher Librarian. Retrieved from

I enjoyed this article, or manifesto, because I found it so informative. The author gives a very extensive list of what librarians in the 21st century could or should be doing—apps to use, ways to promote reading, new technologies, “modern” ways to create space and collections, ways to promote equity, etc. A really good and extensive list! I think there is a takeaway here for even the most experienced librarians.

Sparking Critical Thinking About Images in a Meme Culture

Pamela Graham


Snelling, J. (2019). In a Meme Culture, How to spark critical thinking about images. School Library Journal. Retrieved from

This article explains visual literacy, now incorporated into the language arts, which involves the ability to observe an image and make meaning of it. Given that there are millions of YouTube videos and social media posts uploaded each day, students need to be aware of how to differentiate the real from the fake. Many still trust that “seeing is believing” and forward memes and photos without a thought of who created them. The article shares strategies for helping students determine if an image is real or Photoshopped, such as slowing down and applying reason and critical thinking, tracing the source of an image, and creating their own “fake” images to understand how easy it is to doctor them.

I liked this article and thought it shared practical advice for how we as educators can help our students become more media-savvy.

Want to learn better? Start mind mapping

Walker, Machelle


TedxTalks. (2017, December 13). Want to learn better? Start mind mapping | Hazel Wagner | TEDxNaperville. Retrieved September 07, 2018, from


This is a short Ted talk on mind mapping and the research behind how it helps you learn better.  The video reviews the benefits of such as taking notes, working on vocabulary,  etc.  Wagner emphasizes that it can help teacher improve student retention and learning.  Mind mapping helps the brain make links between topics which results in visual and kinesthetic learning strategies to build knowledge.


I found this video to be very eye opening in terms of how I can help my students learn.  As a teacher you spend so much time trying to help students create connections between content ideas and topics.  Mind mapping is a way to physically show students how to create connections and self-reflect on their learning.  Mind mapping has helped student identify gaps in their learning and created an activity that they can utilize in every class from now tell they graduate college.

For your consideration: An Outlier

Solomon, Samantha

Ullman, R. (2018). No, Teachers Shouldn’t Put Students in the Driver’s Seat. Teacher Teacher. Retrieved 26 September 2018, from

Summary: This opinion piece is written by Richard Ullman, a 29 year veteran of teaching in public high schools. In the piece Ullman defends the practice of teachings using direct instruction to communicate complex skills and concepts to students. He feels that the pendulum has swung too far towards a pedagogy based on “equat[ing] cosmetic engagement with actual learning.” He argues that educational trends are dictated and propelled by people who are removed from actual classrooms, and that as a result, the current trends around game-based learning and student driven learning actually don’t improve student outcomes. He points out that “even though the classroom looks dynamic, students appear to be busy, and the right boxes get checked during classroom observations, achievement gaps don’t close.” Ullman argues that traditional, teacher-centered instruction does work, but that confirmation bias causes experts to ignore the merits of this style in favor of chasing educational fads.

Evaluation: It’s not that I agree with Ullman’s strong preference for teacher-centered instruction, but I do think it is important to acknowledge what people who might be out of this moment’s mainstream might be thinking. I absolutely feel that there is a place for more traditional, direct instruction in classrooms and school libraries, but I also think that it has to be blended with more engaging, student-centered techniques to fully resonate and connect with students and truly enhance their learning.

Making personalized learning projects possible

Sasaki, Lori


Schwartz, K. (2017, December 4). Tips and Tricks to keep kids on track during genius hour projects. KQED Mindshift. Retrieved from

This article outlines one teacher’s advice and experience around Genius Hour, or “20 percent time projects.” The teacher shares anecdotes and examples (including a student video) of the challenges and successes in implementing this kind of student-centered learning.

There is not a comprehensive explanation of the entire project, however the article touches upon various important stages, such as defining the problem, staying organized, and assessment. The tangible tools and tips (with lots of links to resources) for managing personalized learning projects helped to make this kind of learning process seem both inspiring and realistically do-able.

Knowing the Difference Between Digital Skills and Digital Literacies and Teaching Both

Hertz-Newman, Jenny


Bali, M. (2016). Knowing the difference between digital skills and digital literacies and teaching both. Literacy Today. Retrieved from:

This article makes the important distinction between digital skills such as the ability to use digital tools (i.e., how to download, how to retweet, how to use Powerpoint) and digital literacies, which Bali (2016) characterizes as the “issues, norms, and habits of mind surrounding technologies used for a particular purpose”.  In other words it’s important for teachers to make sure they are teaching both the HOW of using digital tools as well as the WHEN and WHY involved with using those tools.

I appreciate the way Bali (2016) discusses the contextualized teaching and learning involved in digital literacy — when would you use Google instead of another platform, when should your use be determined by issues of privacy, issues of source reliability, issues of appropriateness and long term consequences of a particular posting?  She proposes a progressive model, scaling up in complexity in both skills and literacy.