PBL Reflective Blog: Driving Questions


Post Introduction:

During our third week in Technology-Supported Project-Based Learning, we were to further delve into Project-Based Learning and explore driving questions to help solidify our Project Idea and help us formulate our own driving question. We were to:

  • Decide upon our driving question
  • Develop at least 10 sub-questions
  • Identify characteristics of a quality driving question
  • Explain how our driving question has the characteristics of a quality driving question
  • Describe how an entire unit can be created around our driving question by explaining our list of sub-questions.
  • Reflect on what we’ve learned this week, as we’ve have settled on an idea for our project.
  • Comment on the tools we are using or the resources we have reviewed

PBL Blog:

What are driving questions: Driving questions are the foundation of either a successful or unsuccessful PBL project. There are two different types of questions:

  1. Directed: low-level questions with one correct answer
  2. Open-ended: high-level questions that do not have merely one correct answer.

Driving questions are open-ended questions. According to Edutopia’s article “How to Write a Driving Question”, they serve many functions throughout the PBL project for both students and teachers and help to: 

  • initiate and focus the inquiry
  • capture and communicate the purpose of the project
  • guide planning and reframe standards
  • create interest and a feeling of challenge
  • guide the project work
  • helps students answer the question: “Why are we doing this?”

The driving question must be complex and extremely open-ended because the idea is that in order for students to answer the question they must participate in multiple activities, synthesize information from numerous sources and eventually create a final product that answers that question from their own perspective. Therefore according to the BIE (Buck Institute for Education’s webinar on writing driving questions, some of the essential components of Driving Questions are that it must be:

  • open-ended
  • engaging and intriguing for students
  • aligned with the teacher’s learning goals
  • have a real-world connection *ideally*

Driving question in this PBL project: The driving question that students will explore throughout this Idaho History/ELA PBL project, focused on the relationship between Idaho History & students personal history, is: “What makes people take a risk?“. This driving question is open-ended as it can have multiple correct answers because it is open-ended and taps into student’s lives it is engaging and intriguing for students. This driving questions also aligns directly with the Idaho State standards for Idaho History where students explore migration in Idaho and what risks people took  since students will be interviewing family members it will also have a real-world connection to their own lives. This driving question along with the following sub-questions will facilitate an entire unit:

  • What is an immigrant?
  • What is migration?
  • Why do people all over the world migrate?
  • Who were the first immigrants to come to Idaho?
  • What were the industries and jobs available in Idaho in the past?
  • Why did people come to Idaho in the past?
  • What were the risks people faced when migrating to Idaho in the past?
  • Who are the immigrants coming to Idaho now?
  • What are the industries and jobs available in Idaho now?
  • Why do people come to Idaho now?
  • What are the risks people face when migrating to Idaho now?
  • Why did my ancestors (family) come to Idaho?
  • Why do some people take risks why others choose not to?
  • What is probability?
  • What is the connection between probability and risk taking?

This question &  great driving questions: Students will need to begin this unit by exploring what is an immigrant and what is migration by delving into their textbook and other related short stories and novels. Then students will delve into Idaho History to learn about immigrants that came to Idaho and why they did so. Students will need to fast forward to today’s world and see if the reasons and risks associated with people coming to Idaho have changed. Students will conduct interviews to learn about why their own families came to Idaho and synthesize what they’ve learned with a partner to develop their own stories with the probability of risk.

Reflection of Learning/Standard Connection:  This assignment required me to delve into several articles and websites including Edutopia’s article on Driving Questions, a webinar by BIE (Buck Institute of Education) on writing Driving Questions, and the PBL Online tutorial on writing Driving Questions, among others to develop a thorough understanding of Driving Questions for Project-Based Learning.  I got the experience to analyze several articles with information and opinions on writing driving questions. Then I viewed many examples of driving questions to analyze if they were effective or not. Finally, I synthesized the information I learned to decide upon my own driving question and sub-questions.

  • AECT Standard 4.3 Reflection on Practice: To further delve into what role driving questions have in project-based learning and identify necessary features of driving questions, I needed to analyze and interpret various questions and reflect on the effectiveness of their design to enhance my own questions and set of sub-questions.


About jasminequezada

I’m extremely lucky to call Boise Idaho, an outdoor haven of a beautiful little city, the place I call home. I teach 4th grade dual language. This means that I teach native English speakers, Spanish, and native Spanish speakers, English, by using both languages to teach the regular 4th grade curriculum to nine year old’s. I also have an extremely creative and inquisitive seven year old son who keeps me playing, laughing, and on my toes all day long, he is my favorite person. My boyfriend’s name is Victor and he is my partner in discovering the outdoors, which is why living in Boise is perfect for us! While I enjoy being outdoors, I also love technology and all of the doors it has opened to humanity to learn, grow, and evolve. This is why I consider it vital for myself as an educator to delve deeper into this technological world so I can continue to serve as a guide for my students, in their discovery of the world.

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