3rd Grade4th Grade KentuckyInquiry Challenge


This 2016 Inquiry Challenge winner inquiry asks students to explore the cultural diversity in Appalachia. Students look across artisan crafts and artifacts, music, and literature to investigate their culture. Every place is home to someone and it is important to look at what makes each of our homes special. The culture students are looking at here is encapsulated in studying what they see, read, and hear. Teachers and students should note that there is no way to fully capture the richness and nuance of Appalachian life. Inferences can be made from the music and literary documents, but teachers and students should be aware that absence of sources can influence the interpretations that we develop of the past. This inquiry serves as a reminder to invite students, who have lived in Appalachia or who want to better understand the region, to bring in the world around them.


Compelling Question:

What’s So Special about Appalachia?

Staging the Question:

Ask questions through the Question Formulation Technique aimed at identifying and exposing negative stereotypes in The Beverly Hillbillies

Supporting Question How do art forms reflect life in Appalachia?

Formative Task Create a list of types of artwork produced in Appalachia and describe how they reflect life in Appalachia.

Sources Source A: Quilts
Source B: Dulcimer and music
Source C: Baskets and basket making


Supporting Question How does music reflect life in Appalachia?

Formative Task Do a close read of the song lyrics and write 1-2 sentence summaries on how each song reflects life in Appalachia.

Sources Source A: Loretta Lynn “Coal Miner's Daughter”
Source B: Dwight Yoakam “Readin', Rightin', Rt. 23”
Source C: Ricky Skaggs “Country Boy”


Supporting Question How does literature reflect life in Appalachia?

Formative Task Develop a claim about the positive and negative ways Appalachia is depicted in literature.

Sources Source A: When I Was Young in the Mountains Cynthia Rylant
Source B: The Relatives Came Cynthia Rylant
Source C: My Great-Aunt Arizona Gloria Houston
Source D: The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree Gloria Houston

Summative Performance Task

Argument: What’s so special about Appalachia? Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, essay) that addresses the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence from current and historical sources while acknowledging competing views.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Research the ways and methods in which public and private groups depict the culture of Appalachia.
Assess: Examine the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) “Visit Appalachia” website and assess the extent to which it reflects the culture of Appalachia.
Act: Organize an Appalachian culture day OR write the ARC a letter that addresses what needs to be changed to reflect a more accurate picture of Appalachian culture.