This year, essential questions are the big deal at my school. Administrators expect to see them prominently posted whenever they come in to the room. Recently I found myself the “substitute” in a 9th grade English class while the teacher was out on a short medical leave. I loved the chance to get back in the classroom and teach one of my favorite texts, Romeo & Juliet. Her room, however, was her classroom–her posters all over the walls, her messages all over the board, her stuff everywhere. I didn’t know how long she was going to be out, so I was hesitant to erase something that may be important, but wanted to post the essential questions for the unit I planned. But where?
Lately inspiration always seems to strike me in the middle of the night. I wouldn’t mind if it would leave me alone and let me go back to sleep, but too many nights I find myself awake at the computer working away. This was no different. Around 2am I awoke and thought of those little table signs like they use to advertise desserts or specials at restaurants! Her desks were arranged in tables, why couldn’t I post the essential question in one of those plastic frames?
So, at 2am, I started designing my table tent-essential questions! I had two questions for the unit: Why does Shakespeare Matter? and What is Love?
I designed 5×7 slides in PowerPoint and then collected related quotes from Shakespeare for the back side of the frame. I printed them on colored card stock. Luckily, I had the frames already from a school fundraising dinner (available at Staples for $2.40). I was very pleased with the way it turned out. I wouldn’t do it every time, but the novelty certainly made the essential questions more prominent in the students’ minds and our discussions—they weren’t just posted on the board, but were actually a part of our learning.
What creative ways have you used to display essential questions or unit objectives?