Striking the right chord: How does it feel to write your first inquiry?

By Alicia McCollum and student inquiry travelers As an educator venturing into the world of inquiry design for the first time, the experience can feel remarkably similar to learning to play a musical instrument. I recently started relearning to play the piano and quickly realized that much of what I’d learned from childhood lessons were […]

In Praise of ‘Simple’ Questions: Diversifying your Compelling Questions

One of the most fruitful aspects of using IDM in a school, PLC, or any community of teachers is the ability to develop a similar language about what we are trying to teach in a classroom. My own social studies department made it a soft goal to implement IDM language (questions, tasks, sources, etc.) a […]

Descending into the Particulars by Embracing the Uncertainty of Inquiry

Waking up to the news of the world can at times feel like a dizzying whirlwind. Today, amid the escalating turmoil in Israel and Gaza, I listened to a news interview in which the reporter was asking a former Israeli hostage negotiator their opinion on what the coming days and months would hold for Israelis […]

Celebrating Black Joy

As I walk down my hallways, I gaze at my students’ Black History Month posters that cover the walls and I realize how I’ve changed since my early years. This month my school’s hallways are decorated with beautiful images that celebrate singers from Cab Calloway to Summer Walker, athletes like Gabby Douglas and Doug Williams, […]

Never Stop Asking WHY

Inquiry at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center When I taught tenth-grade American history, I had a sign on my classroom wall that read Never stop asking WHY. As an eager new teacher, I had plans to utilize inquiry in my classroom and envisioned my students, under my tutelage, asking big questions and making connections […]

Creating Performance Levels Descriptors to Support Inquiry in the Post-COVID Classroom

In 2019, I wrote about how I began my year pre-assessing student performance on the skills central to the IDM: (1) making evidence-based arguments. As we approach the second half of the school year, I want to share new insights for preparing students to engage with inquiry. After 2019, and in response to the impact […]

I Fell into Inquiry While Reading

“We inherit our history.” It was a phrase I often used to begin my year in the hopes of sparking student agency and making history relevant. But as an early teacher in social studies and ELA, misconceptions about the importance of authentically investigating history filled my brain. I knew I wanted my students to engage […]

I Fell into Inquiry at a PD Session

The first time I encountered inquiry I was immediately hooked. As a novice teacher, I knew that I wanted my curriculum to be relevant, responsive, and sustaining, and I knew I wanted to attend to those resource pedagogies through asking questions. I knew that I needed to plan my course backwards, starting with big ideas, […]

I Fell into Inquiry at the Airport

I learned about the Inquiry Design Model and C3 Framework as a first-year teacher. At that time, I was working with MaryBeth Yerdon and she brought up the IDM, C3 Teachers, and the C3 Framework at a department meeting. MaryBeth learned about inquiry the previous year at a district-wide professional development. Her enthusiasm about inquiry […]

Practicing What We Preach: Using Inquiry to Design a Social Studies Methods Class

In classrooms, we use inquiries to deepen student understanding of content and to sharpen student skills towards making evidence-based arguments, asking important questions, and taking informed action. In the past, I’ve worked with teachers on adopting the language of inquiry, not only as they learn to create and deploy inquiries, but as general praxis. In […]