Recently, a department chair at one of our 25 high schools here in Fairfax County, Virginia asked me if there will be a project this summer to create additional C3 inquiries for VA standards of learning. The question made me smile as it suggested that teachers were using the 13 modules that have been created so far. The answer is an optimistic “maybe.” But for the sake of this post, the question also invited a moment to pause and consider the evolution of the resources that that been created over the last three summers.
To set some context, let’s take a quick flashback to July 2015. It was then that a team of teachers and I were designing the first batch of inquiries for publication on our Virginia Hub. We agreed that in order to be successful (meaning teachers would use them with their students), the resources should include suggested instructional practices and formative assessments for each supporting question. These optional strategies would provide clarity to a recurring question that was coming up in our discussions with teachers; “What are students doing with the sources?” Or, simply put, “what happens during the class?”
Those are important questions indeed. What the teachers asked us to do as designers was to be explicit and intentional (two of my favorite words) regarding our thinking about what students actually do during an inquiry. Thinking about this issue has been fun and has yielded what I think are better inquiries. Indeed, devoting time to considerations for what students do when they complete our inquiries has been essential for developing rich inquiries in our districts.
So, what are the manifestations of intentional and explicit instructional strategies found in our inquiries? The list below includes some the materials we drew from. Combined with the teacher-designers’ expertise and vision, these strategies help to flesh out what inquiry can look like in the classroom.
As the number of C3 Hubs grows, I hope the materials described below are helpful to design efforts. I look forward to what is developed.
Have a great 2018!
- Making Thinking Visible: Harvard’s Project Zero program includes a fabulous collection of routines called “Visible Thinking.” In their own words:
“Visible Thinking has a double goal: on the one hand, to cultivate students’ thinking skills and dispositions, and, on the other, to deepen content learning. By thinking dispositions, we mean curiosity, concern for truth and understanding, a creative mindset, not just being skilled but also alert to thinking and learning opportunities and eager to take them thorough descriptions of the ideals, routines and activities that we’ve developed from research in K-12 schools.”
These are outstanding and you will find them scattered among the C3 inquiries we developed. Here are some of our favorite thinking routines:
- I Used to Think…, But Now I think…
A routine for reflecting on how and why our thinking has changed.
- Connect Extend Challenge
A routine for connecting new ideas to prior knowledge
- Creative Questions
A routine for generating and transforming questions
- Facing History and Ourselves: Likewise, you will find these strategies integrated across the inquiries. Facing History has assembled over 50 student centered practices that “…strengthen your students’ literacy skills, nurture critical thinking, and create a respectful classroom climate.” Here are some of our favorites:
- Graphic Organizers: We have been adding to these each year. This summer we decided to use these four:
- Graphic Organizers – Over a dozen free styles you can customize and download.
- 53 Ways to Check for Understanding — A collection of formative assessments.
- Document Analysis Tools from the National Archives and Library of Congress
- Levels of Inquiry Visual: One of our C3 writers, Kat Stankiewicz, first introduced me to this visual she discovered online. I think she found it here, @trev_mackenzie. It has been a core part of our C3 workshops as it invites multiple approaches to inquiry. The side text was added by the summer 2017 team.