What’s the Big Idea? by Jim Burke

whats the big ideaWhat’s the Big Idea?  Question-Driven Units to Motivate Reading, Writing, and Thinking is Jim Burke’s newest publication.  Jim Burke is a writer and practicing high school English teacher.  He has written other books, like Tools for Thought and The English Teacher’s Companion.

This book provides a framework for teachers to reconsider how they plan their units.  Instead of working from Day 1 and planning to the end of the unit with a final test, project, or paper, Burke uses a backwards design model.  It requires that the teacher think about essential questions – big life questions like “What does it mean to be a good friend? – that he or she wants students to know by the end of the unit. Then, the teacher uses those questions to formulate a final assessment.  That final assessment guides all the lessons that come before it, since students should be learning skills that can be tested and applied in the culminating activity of the unit.

This is practical book that offers many examples of units from the author’s own experience.  Burke provides scaffolding through graphic organizers and reader reflections so teachers can begin their own process of using backwards design.  The reading is easy to read and convincing that to create effective, relevant units, curriculum should be guided by questions and meaningful assessments.

Click the picture to see the publisher’s website or click here.  On this page, you can see the table of contents, download a sample from the book, and read reviews.

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