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.

5 Ways PBL Facilitates Lifelong Learning

Whitlock, Kami


Niehoff, M. (2019, September 21). 5 Ways PBL facilitates lifelong learning. Retrieved from learning/?utm_source=Smart+Update&utm_campaign=c2e3b20d71-SMART_UPDATE_2019_09_24_07_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_17bb008ec3-c2e3b20d71-321306465

Educators’ main goal is to help students become life long learners, but this task, although it sounds simple, can be challenging. This article explains five characteristics of problem based learning (PBL) and justifies why they are important to students. The five characteristics are real-world learning, sustained inquiry, public opportunities, student voice and choice and the power of learning when you love what you do.

Many educators stray away from PBL because it seems challenging to implement. This article persuasively explains why that should not happen. It describes how students benefit from PBL at school and will take all of the ideas and lessons they learn with them to use later in life. By using PBL students will think more deeply about content, develop collaborative skills, take part in social emotional learning, and use technology. This article is very informative about what PBL is and how students and teachers benefit from it.

It’s 2019. So Why Do 21st-Century Skills Still Matter?

Name: Boyd, Shani

Topic: ID


Boss, S. (2019). It’s 2019. So Why Do 21st-Century Skills Still Matter? Retrieved from:


The article introduces how the 21st Century model has evolved in the current era and how it is being applied in the real world by students. Drawing from examples of various teachers, Boss demonstrates what has worked well to incorporate the 4C’s while empowering students. As the model calls for moving away from textbooks and teachers talking-at students, students collaborate with others, apply critical thinking to real-world situations, and find creative uses for communicating through digital tools. Yet, despite the innovations technology has brought to this way of teaching, many teachers still find it challenging to incorporate established frameworks for deeper learning.


This article opens with a successful example of students applying 21stCentury skills to a problem in their community that drew on their ability to collaborate and think critically. The article then transitions into an explanation about applying the 4C’s and other innovations to deeper learning that have evolved in the digital age. Boss introduces notable educators in the field and incorporates several examples of how students have applied this method outside of classrooms. She also provides additional reading material and links to other websites for further research. I like that this article covers a variety of perspectives on how the 21st Century model has been applied and how it works for students. She calls for more teachers to make the much needed transition because the competencies taught reman relevant to a students contribution to their community and life outside of school.

Creativity & Critical Thinking

Oakes, Constance

Topic: Inquiry and Design (ID)

Bibliographic Citation:  Richardson, J. (2014, October 17). How to think, not what to think [Video file]. Retrieved from

Summary:  This is a TEDxBrisbane talk with Jesse Richardson, the founder of  In his talk, he discusses the need to stop teaching students information and to start teaching them how to think.  His thinking is that we need to teach children how to think creatively. By doing so we will be teaching students not only how to think, but how to be adaptive and how to innovate in order to solve problems.  Along with this, we need to teach critical thinking skills to teach students to be able to change their thinking and be able to be wrong which then leads to growth.

Evaluation/Opinion:  I found this TEDx to be engaging and I liked his view that thinking creatively and critical thinking skills are two sides of the same coin.  The School of Innovation is intriguing as is and I agree that this is what we need to be teaching our youth so they will be ready for the world we are leaving them.

A Vision of What Collaboration Looks Like

Smith, Chloe


D’Orio, W. (2019). Powerful partnerships. School Library Journal 65(1), 24–27. Retrieved from:

Summary: This article from School Library Journal discusses collaboration strategies for teacher librarians/media specialists and classroom teachers. It acknowledges the challenges involved, particularly around scheduling and time commitments, but also emphasizes the value of collaboration. Librarians can build strong relationships with their colleagues and raise the library’s profile within the school and–even more importantly–students can benefit from the insights and creativity of multiple staff members working together. The article points out that library staff need to actively pursue these partnerships, reaching out to classroom teachers, making sure that projects are aligned with learning goals, and following through so that projects see completion.

Beyond these tips, the article spends most of its length discussing successful examples of long-term, collaborative learning projects in different school settings. Teacher librarians and classroom teachers worked together to create units for 7th graders to explore the the complex interrelations of systems in the human body or to support kindergartners working together to create a machine that can paint. These and other examples show that collaborations in the library setting enabled student inquiry and design thinking. These learning projects pushed students to explore, take ownership of their work, and use tech solutions to create new things.

Evaluation: I really appreciated the specific examples in this article. The strategies and tips for librarians and teachers weren’t anything I hadn’t seen addressed in more detail in other sources, but the descriptions of successful projects were really inspiring. It showed the breadth of possible successful projects that collaboration can make possible.

Inquiry Based Teaching

Joffe, Stephany


Inquiry Based Teaching: The Inquiry Approach. (2019). The Teaching Channel, Retrieved from:

Summary: This 3 minute video from The Teaching Channel covers teacher collaboration, student inquiry, and student’s voice. A group of high school teachers discuss the inquiry model and diversity of students. Then, the video illustrated student inquiry, collaboration and student’s voice where the students are discussing Lincoln.

Evaluation: This is an excellent video example of what can be accomplished with teacher collaboration, student collaboration and the inquiry model.

Personal Learning Environments

Hwang, Naomi

ID: Inquiry and Design Thinking

LaSota, D. (2017, February 8). Personal learning environments (PLE) [Video file]. Retrieved from

Summary: In this video, Dan LaSota, an instructional designer at University of Alaska Fairbanks’ eCampus, breaks down the four main aspects of Personal Learning Environments. First, we connect with information when we come into contact with it. Then, we collect information, whether it’s in our memory, on phone apps, in a notebook, etc. We collect information so that we can retrieve it, and our ability to retrieve it helps us in our collection processes. Third, we reflect, or think, about the information, actively processing or cogitating about it. Lastly, we may share information with others, allowing others to access it as well. At the end of the video, LaSota discusses why an examination of one’s Personal Learning Environment can be valuable to oneself or for students. He compares it to taking inventory of our resources and tools. He also discusses how students may start with the first or second steps when they are learning in school, but may may not move on to the third or fourth steps. He suggests technology tools for augmenting student learning such as Diigo and Google Drive.

Evaluation: While this video is not the most engaging and just shows LaSota talking and writing, I found that it broke down the concept of Personal Learning Environments in a valuable and clear manner. LaSota’s discussion of the value of understanding our own PLEs was a lightbulb moment for me, because he pointed out that if we do not understand the ways we connect, collect, reflect, and share information, we will not know what we are missing out on. Examining our own PLEs is like taking an inventory of the methods and tools we use in each. It is only after taking inventory that one may realize what methods and tools we are not utilizing or could add to our “arsenal”. If our students could reflect on their own inventories, or reflect on how they engaged in each of the four aspects after a unit, a project, or even a lesson, they maybe able to understand their learning styles better and become better students.

Build a School in the Cloud TED talk

Mackey, Megan


Mitra, S. (2013). Build a school in the cloud. Retrieved from

A Ted talk form the winner of the 2013 TED prize. He talks of his experience giving students computers  and their self-motivation, curiosity, and success learning. He talks of his wish was to create a school in the cloud through SOLEs (self organized learning environments).

An intriguing idea but how successful was this? There is a blog post about him bringing the first learning lab in the US to Harlem in 2015.  Not much is to be discovered online. Even their own website doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2016. A documentary was recently released in England. Is it still in practice? Perhaps the larger educational system of the US is just too much to tackle?


Is It Project-Based Learning, Maker Education, or Just Projects?

Jess Peterson


Gerstein, J. (2013, October 22). Is It Project-Based Learning, Maker Education or Just Projects? Retrieved from

This article examines and explains the differences between PBL, Maker Ed, and just throwing in projects. The author makes the claim that most often, even though educators are attempting to tout their activities as PBL or otherwise, mostly, projects are really just an activity that follows direct instruction, and don’t include any form of inquiry whatsoever. She goes on to outline several conditions that must be in place in order for PBL to truly exist, and if all, or at least most conditions aren’t met, then you simply have a project, and inquiry is missing.

I liked this article because she was particularly blunt as well as clear about what makes something qualify as PBL versus what doesn’t. She carefully examines the conditions she claims are essential for PBL to occur, and thoroughly explains how educators can meet these criteria. I also really liked that she included several resources throughout, in case anyone needed or wanted further reading about the various subtopics she brings up.

Inquiry-Based Teaching and Learning – The Role of the Library Media Specialist

Cruz, Loren


Stripling, B. (2008). Inquiry-based teaching and learning – The role of the library media   specialist. School Library Media Activities Monthly. Vol. 25(1)

This article discusses the role of library media specialists in collaboration, teaching, collection development, and leadership and professional development in schools.  It focuses on how library media specialists and teachers must support each other, so that they can support students in their own inquiry processes.  It talks about creating a community of learners, creating a learner-centered environment, and making assessments of the content matter.  It also touches on collection development, and how library media specialists can carefully pick resources relevant to the curriculum that can help aide in the students’ inquiry and research process.  Effective professional development for teachers and library media specialists involves having these professionals go through the inquiry process, reflect on their inquiry experiences, and participate in a collaborative community.

This article did well at briefly describing the ways that school library media specialists can support inquiry in the classroom when collaborating with teachers.  It views library media specialists as a special resource for both students and teachers when approached with a research project.