Creating Lesson Plan Assets for NPS Educators Portal: Essential Questions

Interpretation and Education Career Academy

Updated Curriculum-based Education

Lesson Plan Asset Components

When managing lesson plan assets, there are required fields in order to submit your lesson plan. This section takes a dive into Essential Questions with a goal of helping you to create an effective lesson plan in the NPS Educators Portal.

What is an Essential Question?

Essential Questions (or big picture questions) help focus content on the crucial and important parts of a lesson. Good questions provoke thought and encourage students to think critically about the subject. For example, use the topic of desegregation at Little Rock Central High School in 1957, which was a historical event that involved many people and perspectives.

Using Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site and the following ideas:

  • The selection of African Americans students to the all-white high school
  • The African American student experience attending the all-white high school
  • The lesson title “Taking a Stand in History”

Here are a few possible essential questions:

  • How does who we are shape our family and community?
  • How did the nine African American students take a stand during desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in 1957?
  • How has desegregation of public schools shaped our communities?

Some Examples from the NPS Educators Portal:

From Fort Necessity National Battlefield’s Becoming a Leader lesson:

How did Washington’s experience in the French and Indian War prepare him for his role as a military leader?

From Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site’s Archeology and Magnetometry lesson

How do archeologists use the study of space to understand life in the past?

From Badlands National Park’s Bison Banquet lesson:

What is a prairie food web? How does it provide energy for plants and animals to live and thrive?

Resources for Crafting Essential Questions:


Brainstorm some essential questions related to your site that could be explored in classrooms. Share the questions in the Common Learning Portal, and help others craft essential questions.

Additional Resources

Learn more about the other components of the NPS Educators Portal.

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