This text continues the necessary discussion of designing curriculum for higher-order thinking by placing essential questions at the center of UbD. The benefit of this book is that while in their first work Understanding by Design they cover the issue of Essential Questions in one chapter, this time around the authors flesh out issues around using EQs in the classroom. Although some of the material in the first three chapters was already covered in the first book, additional charts, and a greater explanation on how teachers can make essential questions based on skills is much more useful. As a language teacher I definitely find these sections very useful.
The book is also an answer to schools already applying UbD, and thus, it focuses a lot more on classroom processes than on theoretical foundations. As a result, it gives in-depth discussion as to how to keep alive the EQs throughout the school year, covers how many EQs per lesson are possible, and reinforces the idea that EQs should be at the center of the classroom. In addition to this, W&M make connections between EQs with older ideas, such as Socratic Questioning and The Paideia Proposal. The authors also make sure that this text is teacher-friendly, allowing for reasonable time to adapt new ways of thinking classroom planning as well as discussing potential problems that may arise in the classroom.
A caveat is that this book is not about specific strategies or methodologies, or about curriculum philosophies albeit Socrates and Plato are briefly discussed with respect to questioning methods in the classroom. This is a text that is specifically designed as a follow up on how to design and use EQs within the Understanding by Design planning templates, and thus can be helpful for the curriculum maps.