By Brianne Gidcumb
99 Essential Questions for Driving Inquiry through the Arts
Need some essential questions examples for your classroom? Here are 99 that integrate the arts and include some connected lesson ideas.
For each arts content area, you will find a page of essential questions, which are drawn from the National Core Arts Standards, as well as a page of integrated project seeds include an integrated content for each standard strand in the National Core Arts Standards (creating, performing/presenting/producing, responding, and connecting), a driving question, and a short description of a project seed for each arts content area.
MUSIC ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS EXAMPLES
1.How do musicians generate creative ideas?
2. How do musicians make creative decisions?
3. How do musicians improve the quality of their creative work?
4. When is creative work ready to share?
5. How do performers select repertoire?
6. How does understanding the structure and context of musical work inform performance?
7. How do musicians improve the quality of their performance?
8. When is a performance judged ready to present?
9. How do context and the manner in which musical work is presented influence audience response?
10. How do individuals choose music to experience?
11. How do we discern the musical creators’ and performers’ expressive intent?
12. How do we judge the quality of musical work(s) and performance(s)?
13. How do the other arts, other disciplines, contexts, and daily life inform creating, performing, and responding to music?
14. How do musicians make meaningful connections to creating, performing, and responding?
MUSIC LESSON IDEAS FOR INTEGRATION
Science – Creating Strand
Driving Question: How can the formation of the three different types of rocks (sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic) be communicated through an original piece of music?
Project Lesson Idea: Students will use GarageBand to create three 8-measure compositions: one to represent the formation of the three different types of rocks. Students will have to use the elements of music (tempo, timbre, pitch, etc.) to effectively communicate to the listener how each type of rock is formed.
ELA – Performing Strand
Driving Question: How do musicians select repertoire?
Project Lesson Idea: Rather than programming a concert or performance for your students on your own, this question could be reframed and specified to a particular genre, and students could program a musical revue for performance.
ELA – Responding Strand
Driving Question: How can we interpret the intent of a piece of music?
Project Lesson Idea: Engage students in a guided listening experience, and then have them write a monologue as a “character” from the piece (the composer, the performer, an instrument, a theme, mood). Have students rehearse and present their monologue to a small group, and then journal about the choices they made in their creation, supporting with evidence and observations from the musical selection.
Social Studies – Connecting Strand
Driving Question: How can music communicate a cause or message that is important to a group of people?
Project Lesson Idea: Students engage in study of a unit of music related to a cause (i.e., songs of the Underground Railroad, civil rights music, protest music, etc.) and analyze the messages relayed through these songs. Students will then work in groups to collaboratively decide on a relevant cause, choose a known melody, and write new lyrics for that melody to communicate their message.
VISUAL ART ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS EXAMPLES
1. What conditions, attitudes, & behaviors support creativity & innovative thinking?
2. What factors prevent or encourage people to take creative risks?
3. How does collaboration expand the creative process?
4. How does knowing the contexts, histories, & traditions of art forms help us create works of art & design?
5. Why do artists follow or break from established traditions?
6. How do artists determine what resources & criteria are needed to formulate artistic investigations?
7. How do artists work?
8. How do artists & designers determine whether a particular direction in their work is effective?
9. How do artists & designers learn from trial & error?
10. How do artists & designers care for & maintain materials, tools, & equipment?
11. Why is it important for safety & health to understand the follow correct procedures in handling materials, tools, & equipment?
12. What responsibilities come with the freedom to create?
13. How do objects, places, & design shape lives & communities?
14. How do artists & designers determine goals for designing or redesigning objects, places, or systems?
15. How do artists & designers create works of art or design that effectively communicate?
16. What role does persistence play in revising, refining, & developing work?
17. How do artists grow & become accomplished in art forms?
18. How does collaboratively reflecting on a work help us experience it more completely?
19. How are artworks cared for & by whom?
20. What criteria, methods, & processes are used to select work for preservation or presentation?
21. Why do people value objects, artifacts, & artworks, & select them for presentation?
22. What methods & processes are considered when preparing artwork for presentation or preservation?
23. How does refining artwork affect its meaning to the viewer?
24. What criteria are considered when selecting work for presentation, a portfolio, or a collection?
25. What is an art museum?
26. How does the presenting & sharing of objects, artifacts, & artworks influence & shape ideas, beliefs, & experiences?
27. How do objects, artifacts, & artworks collected, preserved, or presented, cultivate appreciation & understanding?
28. How do life experiences influence the way you relate to art?
29. How does learning about art impact how we perceive the world?
30. What can we learn from our responses to art?
31. What is an image?
32. Where & how do we encounter images in our world?
33. How do images influence our views of the world?
34. What is the value of engaging in the process of art criticism?
35. How can the viewer “read” a work of art as text?
36. How does knowing and using visual art vocabularies help us understand and interpret works of art?
37. How does one determine criteria to evaluate a work of art?
38. How and why might criteria vary?
39. How is a personal preference different from an evaluation?
40. How does engaging in creating art enrich people’s lives?
41. How does making art attune people to their surroundings?
42. How do people contribute to awareness and understanding of their lives and the lives of their communities through art-making?
43. How does art help us understand the lives of people of different times, places, and cultures?
44. How is art used to impact the views of a society?
45. How does art preserve aspects of life?
VISUAL ART LESSON IDEAS FOR INTEGRATION
Math – Creating Strand
Driving Question: How is the principle of the Golden Ratio present in works of art and design?
Project Lesson Idea: Students will create a piece of visual art through a chosen medium that demonstrates the Golden Ratio. Mediums might include painting, drawing, sculpture, logo design, or any approved artistic medium of the student’s choosing.
Social Studies – Presenting Strand
Driving Question: What criteria are considered when selecting work for presentation, a portfolio, or a collection?
Project Lesson Idea: Have students curate artifacts related to a social studies topic. Students can include music, visual art, videos, digital media, information about important individuals from the time/culture, and cultural/historical items in their exhibit.Artifacts should be catalogued and given museum tags, and students should be able to act as a docent to visitors to the classroom exhibit.
ELA – Responding Strand
Driving Question: How can the viewer “read” a work of art as text?
Project Lesson Idea: Have students work in small groups to unpack a given image (a piece of art, a photograph, something related to a unit of study). Students will then write and perform a skit to convey the messages in the image- this could be the context in which the image was created, a new story comprised of the “characters” in the image, etc.
Science – Connecting Strand
Driving Question: How can visual art communicate data?
Project Lesson Idea: Students will create a work of art that is a visual representation of data collected related to a unit of study in science or an experiment conducted.This could be something decided upon by the teacher, collaborative groups, or individual students.
THEATER ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS EXAMPLES
1.What happens when theatre artists use their imaginations and/or learned theatre skills while engaging in creative exploration and inquiry?
2. How, when, and why do theatre artists’ choices change?
3. How do theatre artists transform and edit their initial ideas?
4. Why are strong choices essential to interpreting a drama or theatre piece?
5. What can I do to fully prepare a performance or technical design?
6. What happens when theatre artists and audiences share a creative experience?
7. How do theatre artists comprehend the essence of drama processes and theatre experiences?
8. How can the same work of art communicate different messages to different people?
9. How are the theatre artist’s processes and the audience’s perspectives impacted by analysis and synthesis?
10. What happens when theatre artists foster understanding between self and others through critical awareness, social responsibility, and the exploration of empathy?
11. What happens when theatre artists allow an understanding of themselves and the world to inform perceptions about theatre and the purpose of their work?
THEATER LESSON IDEAS FOR INTEGRATION
ELA – Creating Strand
Driving Question: How can familiar stories be adapted for the stage?
Project Lesson Idea: Students will work collaboratively to create a performance based on a familiar children’s story. Student groups will adapt a chosen children’s story for performance.
ELA – Performing Strand
Driving Question: What can I do to fully prepare a performance or technical design?
Project Lesson Idea: Have students work in teams to produce a theatrical performance of a known story. Students will take on all of the various “behind-the-scenes” roles of putting together a the production. Give each student a “job offer,” based on student preference (director, props, lighting and scenic design, etc.). Have students cast, rehearse, and produce their own production.
Social Studies – Responding Strand
Driving Question: How can the same work of art communicate different messages to different people?
Project Lesson Idea: Provide students with a short script related to a unit of study in social studies, preferably something in which there is more than one point of view. Divide the class into groups and have each group rehearse and perform, and provide opportunity to debrief on how each group, with the same script, conveyed different messages.
Science – Connecting Strand
Driving Question: We usually see theatre represent stories related to people, times, and places. How can theatre be used to communicate a story related to a science-related topic?
Project Lesson Idea: Have students research plays and stories related to topics in the sciences. Have students collaboratively choose a topic or assign topics related to a scientific unit of study, and have groups create scripts that tell a story related to that unit of study.
DANCE ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS EXAMPLES
1.Where do choreographers get ideas for dances?
2. What influences choice-making in creating choreography?
3. How do choreographers use self-reflection, feedback from others, and documentation to improve the quality of their work?
4. How do dancers work with space, time and energy to communicate artistic expression?
5. What must a dancer do to prepare the mind and body for artistic expression?
6. How does a dancer heighten artistry in a public performance?
7. How is a dance understood?
8. How is dance interpreted?
9. What criteria are used to evaluate dance?
10. How does dance deepen our understanding of ourselves, other knowledge, and events around us
11. How does knowing about societal, cultural, historical and community experiences expand dance literacy?
DANCE LESSON IDEAS FOR INTEGRATION
Math – Creating Strand
Driving Question: How can the principle of symmetry influence the creation of an original piece of choreography?
Project Lesson Idea: Students will work collaboratively to create a dance that effectively demonstrates their understanding of symmetry, in both locomotor and non-locomotor movements, as individuals, in pairs or groups, and in form.
Science – Performing Strand
Driving Question: How do dancers work with space, time and energy to communicate artistic expression?
Project Lesson Idea: Students will work in groups to create a choreographic work to represent a weather-related phenomenon. Students must work together to convey their chosen weather-related topic through body, energy, space, and time. Students will perform their work for the class, and provide feedback for other groups on how the use of space, time and energy was an appropriate expression of each scientific concepts.
Math – Responding Strand
Driving Question: How are geometric shapes incorporated into a dance performance, and how do we perceive these as audience members?
Project Lesson Idea: Watch a short clip of a ballet performance, asking students to take notice of any geometric shapes they perceive in the performance. Share observations, and then have students work in groups to create a piece of choreography that skillfully integrates geometric shapes.This piece should not be a “montage” of geometric shapes, but rather an elegant integration of geometric principles through fluid movements of the body.
ELA – Connecting Strand
Driving Question: How can dance be used to communicate important life events without language?
Project Lesson Idea: Have students work in groups to choose an event of importance and choreograph a short piece that communicates that event.The piece should have a beginning, middle, and end, and students should write a statement regarding how their piece used the elements of dance to appropriately communicate the event.