The Inquiry Design Model – Conceptual Principles: Inquiry Topics and Outcomes are grounded in the New York State Social Studies Framework

Lately, I have been talking to teachers, friends and colleagues, about how they decide on the curriculum to use in their social studies courses. We had interesting discussions of what factors they consider, as well as what they wish they could do if given unlimited freedom in the class’ construction. One thing that was evident across the conversations was how they felt they were in a balancing act of all the content requirements and teaching the necessary skills for developing student conceptual understandings.

Answers ranged from considering student interests to current events to the pervasive themes of the human experience. Even when their dream class was extremely fluid, there was nonetheless recognition of the fact that they needed to purposefully consider how they would assist their students in this intellectual journey. This fluidity, or responsiveness to students, does not mean a lack of meaningful content undergirding their exploration.

A key component of the C3 Framework is that it was not meant to be a set of content standards, but rather act as a means to support states’ creation and implementation of standards, reflecting the social studies as a set of distinct disciplinary literacies and skills. Thus, the C3 Framework and Inquiry Design Model are meant to be applied to various content standards. When working on the New York State Toolkit Project, the writers began on the ground level – the content standards. If you look at each individual blueprint, the corresponding standard is right beneath the compelling question.

An exciting aspect of the blueprint model is that although the standards ground the inquiries currently posted on the site, the pedagogical logic of an inquiry can be applied to any desired content standard.

As teachers, we often feel we are serving two masters, or three, or four, or a dozen! Don’t approach IDM as another ball thrown into this juggling act. The C3 Framework was meant to help you as you consider those standards, while providing a pedagogical structure to create more meaningful learning experiences. Whether you are creating a unit on Ancient China, the Great Recession, or your state’s geography, consider how the IDM Blueprints’ structure is not something added to your workload. The current and future Blueprints are to help teachers create the learning experience that balances requirements while achieving their larger pedagogical goals.

Certainly, there are commonalities among the standards of the many states – no matter where you are, there are Inquiries in the current New York Toolkit that can be applied to your classroom. As C3 continues to grow, more and more state-specific Inquiries will be created and shared.

And, of course, YOU can always create your own based on your state standards and what you see is needed for YOUR students. Then you can submit it to the C3 Inquiry Challenge contest.