The 7 questions that matter most

Our district refers to these questions as Essentials of Effective Instruction, or EEI.  It’s not a step by step program and it’s not a “new” initiative that replaces other projects. Instead, it’s simply a framework that helps us focus on the questions that matter most.  They were compiled by the late Dave Blum, Director of Curriculum, who handled math and science for West Des Moines Community Schools.  His primary resource was Classroom Instruction that Works, by Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock, ASCD, 2001.


1. How will my students know what they will be learning today?
* Don’t post today’s activity – instead post what is going to be learned.
* Teacher explicitly explains each day’s learning objective.
* Student are able to explain the learning objective.

2. What research based instructional strategies am I using today?
* Majority of classroom instruction is embedded in research based instruction
* Teachers use a variety of techniques to manage student responses

3. How will I ensure that my students are engaged in higher order thinking today?
* Using questions and directives that reflect higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.
* Students are engaged in tasks that require higher order thinking.

4. How will I connect today’s lesson to past and future learning?
* Students are able to connect their learning to past learning
* Students know how today’s lesson fits into the “big picture” of their learning.

5. How will I check for understanding today?
* frequent informal assessments guide and direct instruction.
* Assessment is used as a “transparent” part of instruction.

6. What will I do when students are already proficient in today’s lesson?
* Provide instruction based on what students know and don’t know.
* Alternative instruction for students who are already proficient.

7. What will I do when students did not learn during today’s lesson?
* DIfferentiation to help meet everyone’s needs.
* Provide alternative instruction for students who are not proficient..


How is technology assisting the district to focus on these questions?
We have equipped and provided training for all administrators to utilize eWalk/mobileMX app on their iPad for conducting classrooms observations that are aligned directly to these questions. If these are the most important questions, then we need our administrators visiting classrooms frequently, looking for evidence related to these questions.  Using eWalk also enables us to easily share feedback to the teacher, as a copy of the notes are emailed to the classroom teacher after the form is finalized.  A preview of the specific form used can be seen at

What is the current status of using eWalk for classroom observations?  Has it started?
This spring is a pilot / testing period for administrators.  Full implementation will start in the fall of 2012.

Can the district monitor progress across all schools via eWalk?

What about Authentic Intellectual Work, or AIW, is that going away because of this?
AIW is NOT going away.  AIW and EEI do not compete against each other, but instead complement each other.  AIW is great framework for building collaboration between educators – and we see many benefits from AIW.  For example, many AIW groups focus on higher order thinking tasks for their students, which is a component of these questions.

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