Essential Questions DVD debuted by ASCD

Friday, May 16, 2014

ASCD, a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading, is pleased to announce the new Essential Questions DVD, fresh from the creators of the Understanding by Design framework Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins. The new DVD, meant for use in professional learning communities and schools, explores how to design and frame essential questions to create a more stimulating environment for learning and prompt students to think deeply.

The video brings the essential questions process to life and features scenes from real classrooms where teachers use inquiry-based instruction. Useful in all K–12 content areas, including skill-based areas such as math, PE, language instruction, and arts education, essential questions are an important element of Wiggins and McTighe’s backward design approach. Watch an excerpt of Wiggins using essential questions in a classroom.

“The DVD gives us an opportunity to have a personal connection with our viewers and show teachers in different subjects and grade levels how essential questions can be used in the classroom,” said McTighe. “We want teaching to become more engaging and relevant, which would ultimately result in enduring learning. The DVD makes that possible.”

Best known for the Understanding by Design framework, McTighe and Wiggins have worked together for more than 25 years to produce professional development that provides educators with a planning process and structure to guide curriculum, assessment, and instruction to enhance student engagement.

“ASCD knows that educators are looking for more effective and creative ways to engage their students and the new DVD from Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins is a great solution,” said Dr. Gene R. Carter, CEO and Executive Director of ASCD. “The Essential Questions DVD and book from ASCD helps educators reach a new level of student engagement, where students have the opportunity to think deeply and engage in rich and fulfilling learning.”

The DVD is based on McTighe and Wiggins’ most recent ASCD book, the best-selling Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding. The book provides a comprehensive explanation on how to design, initiate, and embed inquiry-based teaching and learning in the classroom. In the book, McTighe and Wiggins explain why essential questions help educators:

  • “Unpack” standards and organize curriculum around big ideas and core processes.
  • Engage more students in thoughtful inquiry and discussion to promote deeper understanding of content.
  • Signal to students that deep thinking about content is required, not optional.
  • Develop independent learners and foster 21st century skills.

To browse through ASCD’s professional development videos and books, visit ASCD’s store. To learn more about ASCD’s books program or to read sample chapters from other publications, visit

For more information about ASCD, visit or read the 2013 Annual Report.

ASCD is a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading. Comprising 140,000 members—superintendents, principals, teachers, and advocates from more than 138 countries—the ASCD community also includes 56 affiliate organizations. ASCD's innovative solutions promote the success of each child. To learn more about how ASCD supports educators as they learn, teach, and lead, visit