C3 Teachers is proud to bring you a wide range of topics related to using inquiry in social studies.


Front and center in the work of C3 Teachers is our ongoing effort to support educators as they take on the challenges and opportunities that come with inquiry-based learning. All of our efforts require deep knowledge of research and practice so we that we are acting with confidence when we use inquiry in our classrooms. To support those efforts, we present this collection of scholarship.


Here you'll find hundreds of links to books, articles, and brief papers. Learn more about inquiry design through our IDM Book Series, an ongoing collection that probes the theory and practice informing the Inquiry Design Model (IDM). Our Social Education columns examine inquiry practice in classrooms and the design moves needed to bring inquiry to life. In our C3 Publications, we also present a comprehensive listing of research and scholarship related to using inquiry in teaching and learning. Finally, be sure to check out our C3 Briefs where we present essays on some of the biggest opportunities for and challenges with using inquiry in the classroom.



Inquiry Design Model (IDM) Book Series

You and your colleagues can have ready access to IDM through the printed word. The first book in the series, Inquiry-Based Practice in Social Studies Education: Understanding the Inquiry Design Model is on bookstore and Amazon now. Our second book, The Inquiry Design Model: Building Inquiries in Social Studies is available from the National Council for the the Social Studies and Amazon. Our newest in the series, Blueprinting an Inquiry-Based Curriculum: Planning with the Inquiry Design Model, will be out in November 2019.



Inquiry-Based Practice in Social Studies Education: Understanding the Inquiry Design Model

Our first IDM book presents a conceptual base for shaping the classroom experience through inquiry-based teaching and learning.

Using their Inquiry Design Model (IDM), Grant, Swan & Lee provide a detailed account of inquiry’s scholarly roots, as well as the rationale for viewing questions, tasks, and sources as inquiry’s foundational elements.

Available from Amazon HERE




Inquiry Design Model: Building Inquiries in Social Studies

The second IDM book will walk readers through the process of designing an inquiry.  Organized into three clear design phases (Framing, Filling, and Finishing an Inquiry), the Swan, Lee & Grant break down the components of the IDM blueprint and teach others how to create intellectually engaging and thoughtful inquiries.  Foreword by Walter Parker.

Available from NCSS Publications HERE




Blueprinting an Inquiry-Based Curriculum: Planning with the Inquiry Design Model

Our third book in the series is intended for educators who want to speak fluent inquiry across a social studies course and throughout their schools and districts.  In this book, we elaborate on the ideas presented in our first two books on the Inquiry Design Model (IDM) by pushing on the original model to think not just about a singular experience of inquiry, but inquiry as a routine practice in social studies classrooms. More importantly, this book honors the curricular dialects of IDM inquiry that have grown out of the experiences of teachers who have innovated with the original blueprint model and want even more from inquiry.

 Available from Amazon here




Inquiry Design Model: The Workbook

Inquiry-based teaching puts students in the middle of important ideas and events. The Inquiry Design Model helps teachers plan, teach, and assess those ideas and events in ways that position students to succeed. Inquiry Design Model: The Workbook was written as a companion to Inquiry Design Model: Building Inquiries in Social Studies. Together, the two books offer teachers a practical means of developing ambitious and relevant curriculum blueprints.

Available from Amazon HERE



C3 Teachers Social Education Column

 In 2017, C3 Teachers began a partnership with the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) to publish a Teaching the C3 Framework column in each issue of Social Education.  Edited by Kathy Swan, John Lee, and S.G. Grant, the column features articles about designing inquiry-based curriculum and teaching with inquiry.  Articles in our series appear below beginning with our most publication. Each entry includes a brief excerpt and link to the article at Social Education. An NCSS membership subscription is required to access most of the articles.


Column 36: (July 2023) Designing and Teaching a Critical Inquiry: Lessons Learned by Emma S. Thacker, Josephine L. Valentine

Since the publication of the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards, social studies teachers, school leaders, and teacher educators have explored ways to implement it in the classroom, with various results. Much of the published work around the implementation of the C3 Framework in classrooms highlights its use in middle and high school classrooms; however, particularly in the context of limited instructional time for social studies in elementary classrooms, the possibilities of using the C3 Framework to bring more inquiry based elementary social studies instruction needs more attention. In this article, we explore how a second-grade teacher used the Inquiry Design Model (IDM) as a way to engage in inquiry based social studies instruction with students in a low-income, majority-minority elementary school with attention to both her challenges and successes

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/87/4/designing-and-teaching-critical-inquiry-lessons-learned


Column 35: (May/June 2023) What Can Women Teach Us About Equality? An Inquiry-Based Curricular Approach to a Gender and Women’s Studies Course by Christy Cartner, Kathy Swan, Ryan Crowley

In this article, we describe an inquiry-based approach to a Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) course at Bryan Station High School in Lexington, Kentucky, designed to confront contemporary women’s issues. The course consists of a curricular loop of six inquiries developed with the Inquiry Design Model.1 The inquiries push students to consider the larger conceptual question that guides the course: “What can women teach us about equality?”

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/87/3/what-can-women-teach-us-about-equality-inquiry-based-curricular-approach


Column 34: (March/April 2023) IDM as an Assessment System by S.G. Grant, Kathy Swan, John Lee

Emerging from the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework, the Inquiry Design Model (IDM) was initially intended as an approach to curriculum development. Although curriculum is often treated as an independent element of teaching and learning, it is a distinction without a clear difference. As we work with teachers, we now see assessment as the next frontier for IDM.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/87/2/idm-assessment-system


Column 33: (January/February 2023) Designing Questions for Critical Inquiry by Jenni Conrad and Jennifer Gallagher

Experienced teachers and teacher educators agree that crafting compelling questions for inquiry is challenging yet vital for shaping inquiries that support meaningful student learning and action. According to the C3 Framework, compelling questions should “focus on enduring issues and concerns.” Without criteria for what constitutes an enduring issue and concern, teachers may struggle to prioritize topics that are most important for students in our democracy to explore. Teachers’ decision-making about which compelling questions are most worthy of instructional time and resources quickly becomes complex in the sociopolitical realities of schools.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/87/1/designing-questions-critical-inquiry


Column 32: (November 2022) Why Should I Care About Book Bans? by Bonnie Lewis and Laura H. Darolia

The public debate regarding problematic ideas and personal autonomy has cascaded into classrooms over the last two years, as families and politicians demand more control over what our youth are learning. One approach to limiting exposure to perceived harmful or controversial content has been to remove it completely.

In this paper, we present the blueprint for a ninth-grade inquiry that focuses on book bans. Through a series of questions, tasks, and sources, students first consider what makes books worth reading, then analyze arguments for banning particular kinds of books, and explore reasons why and how students are organizing to resist book bans.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/86/6/why-should-i-care-about-book-bans


Column 31: (October 2022) The Political Immersion Project: Differentiated Experiential Inquiry in Civics Education by Robert Alvis, Scott Morrison, and Amanda Ruvolo

When Sarah started asking questions about the roles that mayors play in local governments, Robert did not anticipate that she would be sitting in North Carolina’s Burlington mayor’s office a few weeks later. Sarah’s email to Burlington’s mayor had been simple and to the point. She explained that she was doing a political immersion project in her high school civics course, and she wanted to find out more about the duties of the mayor. To everyone’s surprise, someone on the mayor’s staff responded within days, and Sarah soon had an appointment to meet with and interview the mayor.

Not all the students in Robert’s civics course are expected to land an interview with a local politician, but they are expected to engage in a cycle of inquiry. Questions, tasks, and sources are the mainstays of the Inquiry Design Model, but an additional element in Robert’s political immersion project is experience. Students are expected to participate, either in person or virtually, in local political activity. The purpose is for students to develop authentic, real-world

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/85/6/political-immersion-project-differentiated-experiential-inquiry-civics


Column 30: (May/June 2022) How Do We Discuss Controversial Issues that Confront Injustices?: Three Approaches to Framing Critical Inquiries by Daniel G. Krutka and Mark Hlavacik

In 1921, white residents of Tulsa destroyed the Black neighborhood of Greenwood and murdered hundreds of Black Tulsans. Viola Fletcher was seven years old and survived the attacks. On the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, at 107 years old, Fletcher testified before the House Judiciary Committee. She not only called on all U.S. citizens to remember this event but also called for reparations for those whose wealth was destroyed by the mob.

For occasions when educators ask students to discuss controversial public issues as part of an IDM lesson or unit, we have identified three approaches. Historically, deliberation has been offered as the default discussion framework for controversial issues. However, we believe both civic litigation and counternarration offer frameworks that are particularly
attuned to confronting the types of injustices that get taken up in critical inquiries.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/86/3/how-do-we-discuss-controversial-issues-confront-injustices-three-approachesspa


Column 29: (March/April 2022) Disrupting Anti-Asian Violence During Epidemics: A C3 Inquiry Lesson by Sohyun An

On March 16, 2021, a 21-year-old white man traveled to three different locations in metro Atlanta and shot eight people to death.1 Six of the victims were Asian immigrant women. A witness reported hearing the shooter say, “I am going to kill all Asians.”

As an Asian American woman living just 15 minutes from the mass shooting sites, I was beyond horrified and heartbroken. However, I was not surprised. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in January 2020, people of Asian descent have been targeted. From coast to U.S. coast, Asian people have been yelled at, spat on, attacked, or harmed. My children and I have been told to “go back to China!” (I was born in South Korea) and to “Stay home, you sickly people!” by strangers at a grocery store and at a park.

By inquiring into contemporary and past cases of scapegoating Asian Americans for public health crises, students can learn to debunk and disrupt these stereotypes. Such racial literacy is vital for the students to take informed action and prevent anti-Asian violence. This article presents historical background and a high school inquiry on the history of anti-Asian violence during epidemics.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/86/2/disrupting-anti-asian-violence-during-epidemics-c3-inquiry-lessonspa


Column 28: (January/February 2022) Countering the Past of Least Resistance: A Hard History Inquiry-Based Curriculum by Kathy Swan, Ryan Crowley, Nick Stamoulacatos, Bonnie Lewis, and Grant Stringer

The past year has been turbulent for social studies educators. The summer of 2020 brought calls for racial justice and discussions of structural racism to the forefront in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and widespread Black Lives Matter protests. Then, shortly thereafter, a group of pundits, politicians, and parents weaponized the term critical race theory and framed any attempts to teach about historical oppression as divisive and unpatriotic. In stunning coordination, state legislatures across the U.S. began to introduce legislation limiting the ways teachers could discuss issues of race, gender, and other aspects of identity.2 In a matter of months, talk of racial justice moved from commonplace to, in some settings, potentially costing teachers their jobs. The overarching conflict is most plainly encapsulated in the competing visions put forward by the New York Times’ 1619 Project,3 which positioned enslavement as foundational to the development of the United States, and the Trump administration’s 1776 Report,4 which called for an uncritical re-commitment to the nation’s founding documents. Despite debates on the historical merits of each camp, both view history education as a fight for the soul and character of the nation. As educators witnessing these culture wars in action, it can be tempting to succumb to the heat of these ideological factions and seek safety in the past of least resistance.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/86/1/countering-past-least-resistance-hard-history-inquiry-based-curriculum

Download the article HERE


Column 27: (November/December 2021) Inquiry-Based Core Practices for Social Studies Teacher Education by Alexander Cuenca

Since the introduction of the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards in 2013, several states across the country have incorporated into their standards the idea that high quality social studies instruction is characterized by active student engagement with inquiry. Although the notion that inquiry drives learning in social studies classrooms is not new or particularly provocative, the C3 Framework has enabled states to embrace inquiry as policy, which is a distinct turn in the history of social studies standards. The most recent iteration of the “social studies wars” has focused on curricular policymaking through content-based standards and turned mostly on the question of “whose” knowledge is included or excluded in social studies standards. However, the C3 Framework bypasses content prescriptions, and instead, seeks to codify inquiry as the pedagogical modality that distinguishes quality social studies education.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/85/6/inquiry-based-core-practices-social-studies-teacher-education


Column 26: (October 2021) Scaffolding Historical Source Work Using the Inquiry Design Model (IDM) by Stephanie van Hover, David Hicks, Colleen Fitzpatrick, and Melissa Lisanti

In day-to-day life, we learn complicated tasks in component parts—one step at a time. A soccer player does not intuitively know how to dribble, pass, play a position, or play the offside trap. The coach breaks apart the steps, the player learns them and then practices, over and over, with ongoing feedback, until match time. A musician does not sit at a piano and automatically know how to play, but rather learns notes, chords, and finally full songs that are practiced over and over until a performance. A historian does not just know how to construct a narrative, but has to learn the conceptual underpinnings of the discipline, how to ask robust questions, how to contextualize and analyze sources, how to synthesize multiple pieces of evidence, and how to develop evidence-based claims and arguments. As these examples suggest, learning to engage in complex tasks such as historical inquiry requires providing learners with specific scaffolds and explicit strategy instruction to help them engage in the doing of history.

The specific scaffolds and strategy instructions outlined in this article will help students engage in the complex task of historical inquiry.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/85/5/scaffolding-historical-source-work-using-inquiry-design-model-idm


Column 25: (September 2021) The State of Social Studies Standards: What Is the Impact of the C3 Framework? by Ryan New, Kathy Swan, John Lee, and S.G. Grant

On Constitution Day 2013, the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) published the College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards. The document was written by a team of academics with specialties in social studies education and its disciplines in consultation with state education agencies, professional organizations, and teachers from across the country.1 This collaboration produced a watershed moment for social studies. Publication of the C3 Framework demonstrated that social studies educators could get along and work ambitiously toward a common goal and that they could produce a framework reconciling the “turf wars” that have hampered previous social studies standards and reform efforts.

This study examines the impact of the C3 Framework on state standards presents interesting implications about the ways in which the framework has influenced state-level social studies policies and standards-based content and skills nationwide.

Read  more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/85/4/state-social-studies-standards-what-impact-c3-framework


Column 24: (May/June, 2021) Power, Injustice, Costs and Benefits: Looping Curricular Concepts with the Inquiry Design Model by Kathy Swan, S.G. Grant, John Lee, Andrew Danner, Christy Cartner, and Grant Stringer

Ideally, inquiry is not a once in a while experience. After all, inquiry is the essence of social studies and we know students need lots and lots of practice to get better at it.1 In other words, we want inquiry to loop throughout the social studies curricula. What do we mean by the term “looping”? At its simplest, we mean offering students opportunities to engage in inquiry in regular intervals and in a coherent fashion within and across grade levels.

Engaging students in inquiry at regular intervals, or looping inquiry, within and across grade levels promotes deeper content knowledge and skills over time.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/85/3/power-injustice-costs-and-benefits-looping-curricular-concepts-inquiry-design


Column 23: (March/April, 2021) What’s In A Claim? A Framework for Helping Students Write Persuasive Claims by Ryan Lewis

With ten minutes left in class, my junior year sociology students sat quietly, full of controlled effort as they tackled the exit question on the overhead. The question was a simple supporting question that they had been working on as part of our latest inquiry. After a few minutes, I began walking the aisles, glancing over some shoulders, stopping here and there to look closely at student work. What was I looking for? Like many teachers, at this point in a lesson, I was hoping to see coherent answers to the question. However, over the last few years, I have come to look for something more specific. I was looking for a claim—a two- to three-sentence long response that would reveal what I needed to know about the depth of student learning. I stopped at the desk of one student who had finished her response. I picked her paper up, read it, and handed it back. “This is good, really good,” I said. “A few months ago, you wouldn’t have written this.” She responded, “I know. After doing this all year, it’s easy now.”

Teaching students to make an effective claim is a critical step in establishing a culture of inquiry in the social studies education.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/85/2/whats-claim-framework-helping-students-write-persuasive-claims

Download the article HERE


Column 22: (January/February, 2021) Making Inquiry Possible: A Film Project on Building a Culture of Inquiry by Kathleen Swan, Ryan Crowley, S.G. Grant, John Lee, Gerry Swan, Callaway Stivers, and Gates Sweeney

Social studies has long had a bad rap as a “just the facts” school subject. That reputation isn’t entirely deserved but it’s been true long enough that far too many students have said “no thank you” when it’s time for social studies. However, as Bob Dylan once wrote, “The times … they are a changin’.” The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards (NCSS, 2013) places inquiry at the center of good social studies teaching and learning.1 Instead of social studies courses that emphasize rote memorization through the use of textbooks and lecture-based instruction, the C3 Framework asks teachers to reframe their content and instruction around important, compelling questions that we grapple with as citizens and within the social studies disciplines.

Educators can get an inside look at how some classrooms have shifted to inquiry-based social studies with four documentary films featured in the The Making Inquiry Possible project.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/85/1/making-inquiry-possible-film-project-building-culture-inquiry


Column 21: (November/December, 2020) Blueprinting an Inquiry-Based Curriculum: Planning with the Inquiry Design Model by Kathy Swan, S.G. Grant, and John Lee

Teachers introduced to the Inquiry Design Model (IDM) are often relieved to learn that inquiry isn’t a fuzzy ideal, but rather is a curricular approach with a defined vernacular—questions, tasks, and sources. The inquiry blueprint is a one-page visual representation of the questions, tasks, and sources that define an inquiry.1 In the blueprint, there are compelling and supporting questions, formative and summative performance tasks, and disciplinary sources that aid students in answering the inquiry’s questions.

The authors describe five types of inquiry that keep students engaged, promote student agency, and meet the need of teachers for curriculum flexibility.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/84/6/blueprinting-inquiry-based-curriculum-planning-inquiry-design-model


Column 20: (October, 2020) Dining with Democracy: Discussion as Informed Action by Paula McAvoy, Arine Lowery, Nada Wafa, and Christy Byrd

Jeremy Thomas and Russell McBride are social studies teachers in North Carolina and, until recently, were colleagues at a charter school outside of Raleigh, serving students in grades 6–12. After learning about the Inquiry Design Model (IDM),1 both teachers implemented it into their classrooms and immediately saw how the blueprint helped deepen students’ engagement, understanding of concepts, and ability to make and support arguments. The teachers even took the model to the next level by co-teaching an elective in which students learned to design their own inquiries and took turns leading classmates through their lessons. The course was student-centered and alive with discussion. As a result of their collaboration, Jeremy and Russell made the IDM blueprint a regular feature of their school’s social studies program.

A “Dinner with Democracy” event encourages civil discourse, promotes deliberation, and exposes students to different perspectives.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/84/5/dining-democracy-discussion-informed-action


Column 19: (September, 2020) Zooming Inquiry: Online Teaching with the Pomodoro Technique by Kathy Swan, Andrew Danner, Meghan Hawkins, S.G. Grant, and John Lee

When the pandemic shut schools down in the spring, teachers mobilized the educational home front and taught themselves how to navigate familiar and unfamiliar instructional challenges in the virtual classroom. Say “Zoom” to a group of teachers now and you might see them twitch, tear up, or roll their eyes. Ask teachers how they managed inquiry on Zoom and you may wish you were more than six feet apart.

Implementing 25-minute instructional blocks when teaching online can help learners develop stronger inquiry skills and prevent the zombie-like effects of staring nonstop at a screen.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/84/4/zooming-inquiry-online-teaching-pomodoro-technique


Column 18: (May/June, 2020) Inquiry as a Way of Thinking through the COVID-19 Pandemic by Kathy Swan, S.G. Grant, and John Lee

A crisis can play out in lots of ways, as we are all seeing right now. Our “now” is no time to abandon inquiry; in fact, we argue that an inquiry mindset is more valuable than ever. Consequently, we wrote this piece to help readers think about how they might do inquiry even within these challenging times. But, fear not, weary social studies teachers. We are not adding to your impossible to-do list. Instead, we argue that inquiry is happening all around us and by recognizing and supporting this natural inquiry mindset, you are doing inquiry.

Our students will understand the principles of inquiry better by examining their own reactions to the pandemic.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/84/3/inquiry-way-thinking-through-covid-19-pandemic


Column 17: (March/April, 2020 The Signal and the Noise: Coaching Pre-Service Candidates to Teach with Questions, Tasks, and Sources by Kathy Swan, Ryan Crowley, and Gerry Swan

In his best-selling book, The Signal and the Noise (2012), Nate Silver investigates the art and science of predicting the future by finding a true signal in the noisy world of big data.1 He interviews successful forecasters from a range of fields— from weather to sports to the stock market—trying to weave together a theory of what makes these individuals’ predictions reliable. What becomes clear in the book is that these experts do not pay attention to all the data points and instead focus on the most salient variables.

Teacher educators are inundated with ideas about what their students should know. A newly developed protocol focused on questions, tasks, and sources can help teachers cut through this information overload.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/84/2/signal-and-noise-coaching-pre-service-candidates-teach-questions-tasks-and


Column 16: (January/February, 2020) In Support of Students’ Needs: Exploring the Benefits of the Inquiry Design Model by Christopher T. Dague

For 13 years, I was a high school history teacher in North Carolina. During that time I had the good fortune to work alongside teachers whose work I respected and admired. I respected their savvy and thoughtful instructional design, and I admired the meaningful relationships they developed with their students. Perhaps most importantly, in each of these teachers, I observed an unmistakable passion for their content and students alike.

The Inquiry Design Model offers an instructional framework that enables students to exercise control and agency in their social studies inquiries.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/84/1/support-students-needs-exploring-benefits-inquiry-design-model


Column 15: (November/December, 2019) Can the Civics Test Make You a Good Citizen? Reconciling the Civics Test with Inquiry-Based Instruction by Jennifer Fraker, Carly Muetterties, Gerry Swan,, and Kathy Swan

Students’ knowledge of civics is bleak. As evidenced by National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) civics assessment data, only 23 percent of students performed at or above the proficient level on the 2014 civics assessment.1 Whether eroded by the effects of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) or the evershrinking footprint of social studies in K-12 schooling, educators across the political and pedagogical spectrum agree that students’ lack of civic knowledge is problematic.

Engaging students in a structured inquiry offers an excellent approach to bridging the tension between a fact-based civics test and inquiry-based learning.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/november-december-2019/can-the-civics-test-make-you-a-good-citizen-reconciling-the-civics-test-with-inquirybased-instruction


Column 14: (October, 2019) Using Inquiry and Digital Storytelling to Teach about American Enslavement: Anna, One Woman’s Quest for Freedom by Grant Scribner, and Aaron Johnson

An inquiry framed around the experience of an enslaved woman, highlighted in a recent film, offers an opportunity for meaningful student engagement with the history of American enslavement.



Column 13: (September, 2019) Be the Change: Guiding Students to Take Informed Action by Carly Muetterties and Kathy Swan

Teaching the history of the United States necessarily leads teachers to struggle with the history of enslavement in North America and the nature of its influence on American institutions and social relations. In recent years, many teachers have begun to shift their attention from the broad political effects of American slavery to the lives of enslaved people as historical actors. Attempts to investigate and understand the lives of enslaved people in history classrooms have occasionally led both to powerful learning and to uncomfortable or even harrowing experiences for students and teachers.

This guided inquiry walks teachers through the steps to help students understand a societal problem, assess possible actions, and move to civic action.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/83/4/be-change-guiding-students-take-informed-action 


Column 12: (May/June, 2019) Engaging Social Studies Educators: Professional Development on Inquiry by Patricia Krizan

Social studies teachers often have a love-hate relationship with inquiry. The possibilities of a dynamic and engaging approach to learning labor against time constraints imposed by a content heavy curriculum. In that scenario, how can professional development (PD) on inquiry inform educators and encourage skeptical teachers to implement this practice? How can those responsible for teacher learning opportunities plan meaningful, inquiry-based PD?

Having a meaningful plan for professional development on inquiry-based learning will translate into richer instruction for students.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/publications/socialeducation/may-june2019/engaging-social-studies-educators-professional-development-on-inquiry


Column 11: (March/April, 2019) Inquiry in the Social Studies: Reflections of an Octogenarian by Peter B. Dow

What a pleasant surprise awaited me in Chicago last November! Following an absence of nearly a decade, I attended the annual meeting of the National Council for the Social Studies, where I was invited to appear on a panel to discuss Geoffrey Scheurman and Ronald Evans’s new book on the social studies reforms of the 1960s. What struck me about the Chicago NCSS gathering was the amount of attention given to the topic of “inquiry.” At the conference bookshop, the first publication that caught my eye was Swan, Lee, and Grant’s Inquiry Design Model: Building Inquiry in Social Studies. I was also surprised to find that a number of the conference sessions, and even some of the publishers’ displays in the exhibit hall, proposed “inquiry-based instruction.” Why was I startled by this? After my experience as project director of Jerome Bruner’s Man: A Course of Study, a 1960s model for social studies inquiry that became a casualty of the politics of the period, I never thought I would see the day when the social studies profession openly embraced a questioning approach to exploring our social world.

When teachers are driven mainly to transmit a prescribed curriculum, student curiosity is left by the wayside.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/publications/socialeducation/march-april2019/inquiry-in-social-studies-reflections-of-octogenarian


Column 10: (January/February 2019) The Deliberative Classroom: Inquiry-Based Teaching, Evaluative Questions, and Deliberation by Stefanie Olbrys

When I first met Angela,* an 8th grade student, she was disengaged, rarely in attendance, failing or almost failing every class, and homeless for part of the year. In every respect, Angela was an “at risk” student, one who felt that school had nothing to offer her. It was because of students like Angela that I decided to transform my social studies practice. In my first 10 years as a traditional teacher, I had had success with many students. But not all. When I encountered the C3 Framework,1 I saw an opportunity to develop a different approach that I hoped would encourage all my students to reach their highest potential. The approach I created—The Deliberative Classroom—has pushed me as much as it has pushed my students. The benefits have been powerful: better academic performance along with development of the twenty-first-century skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity, which will support student success in the future. Best of all, these benefits have been shared by all of my students.

In a classroom that promotes deliberation, students practice the kinds of speaking, listening, and critical thinking skills that advance active citizenship.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/publications/socialeducation/january-february2019/deliberative-classroom-inquirybased-teaching-evaluative-questions-and-deliberation


Column 9: (November/December 2018) Why Korea? Why Now? Using Inquiry to Teach about the Korean War and Its Legacy by Jongwoo Han and Joseph Karb

Numerous research and scholarly articles have been written on the Korean War. Yet in many K-12 history classrooms, the war and its legacy are still "forgotten" and are only addressed with a paragraph or two in a textbook. The Korean War Legacy and World History Digital Education foundations are changing this situation by honoring veterans, preserving their stories, and creating online teaching materials for the social studies classroom. The new online resources include an interactive narrative history of the war, C3 Framework aligned curricular resources, a special documentary film, and the largest collection of Korean War Veterans' interviews from 12 UN countries that participated in the war (with interviews from the other 10 UN countries to be completed by 2020) (www.koreanwarlegacy.org). The central feature of the web resource is the Memory Bank of historical texts combined with short oral history videos from the 1,100 interviews of veterans collected by the Korean War Legacy Foundation. 

The inquiry-based materials and audio interviews of Korean War veterans highlighted in this article offer an excellent entry point into a lesson on the “forgotten” war and its legacy.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/publications/socialeducation/november-december2018/why-korea-why-now-using-inquiry-to-teach-about-korean-war-and-its-legacy


Column 8: (October 2018) C3 Teachers Blogging: Grappling with the Realities of Inquiry by Carly Muetterties

These quotations are opening lines of educators’ blog posts on C3 Teachers (www.c3teachers.org). For the last four years, I have been the managing editor of the C3 Teachers website, collaborating with many teacher leaders across the country, as well as providing my own personal reflections on inquiry learning. C3 Teachers offers a virtual space that empowers teachers as they wrestle with inquiry. The bulk of the website offers teacher-created, open-resource curriculum inquiries for K-12 classrooms. I would argue, however, that the heart and soul of C3 Teachers is the blog space where educators share their experiences with inquiry-based teaching and learning. Since its launch in 2014, over 50 contributors have reflected on their work using the C3 Framework and the Inquiry Design Model (IDM).

The educators’ blog space of the C3 Teachers website offers teachers a valuable opportunity to share their experiences on inquiry-based teaching and reflect on their own practices.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/publications/socialeducation/october2018/c3-teachers-blogging-grappling-with-the-realities-of-inquiry 


Column 7: (September 2018) Getting Inquiry Design Just Right by Wayne Journell, Adam M. Friedman, Emma S. Thacker, and Paul G. Fitchett

The notion of teaching social studies through inquiry is far from a new development. With the publication of the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework: Guidance for Enhancing the Rigor of K-12 Civics, Economics, Geography, and History, however, there is arguably a greater emphasis on inquiry in K-12 social studies education than ever before.1 Since its publication, the C3 Framework has received considerable attention in NCSS conference sessions and in the pages of Social Education. Some recent empirical work has looked at teachers’ and other stakeholders’ views of the various components of the framework.2 Yet, we still do not know a lot about how teachers are designing inquiries to put the C3 Framework into practice in elementary and secondary classrooms.

Creating an effective compelling question is the cornerstone of any inquiry that engages students with evidence in critical ways.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/publications/socialeducation/september2018/getting-inquiry-design-just-right


Column 6: (May/June 2018) Questions, Tasks, Sources: Focusing on the Essence of Inquiry by Kathy Swan, John Lee, and S.G. Grant

How many times should I do inquiry in a year? This is the number one question educators ask us about inquiry, and we understand why. One of the inescapable challenges to inquiry is its lack of efficiency in “covering” content. Inquiry necessarily takes longer than direct instruction and this can be problematic for teachers struggling to find time to cover the breadth of content outlined in most social studies courses. As a result, we often suggested that teachers begin with two to four inquiries a year, believing that a couple of meaningful inquiry experiences a year is better than none.

A focused inquiry approach, like the one on Pearl Harbor in this article, enables teachers to weave inquiry into the fabric of their courses as part of their daily instruction.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/publications/socialeducation/may-june2018/questions-tasks-sources-focusing-on-essence-of-inquiry


Column 5: (March/April 2018) Using Project-Based Learning to Drive Inquiry and Student Questioning by Andrew Miller

Project-based learning (PBL) is a powerful way to make learning meaningful to students and to promote student questions and ownership of the inquiry process. It is a useful way to design and deliver curriculum that is similar in many ways to the Inquiry Design Model (IDM). Although PBL and IDM both value inquiry and student questioning, PBL features key components that promote student-led inquiry and attention to authentic products and tasks.

A true project-based learning experience provides students with a voice and choice in what they want to learn.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/publications/socialeducation/march-april2018/using-project-based-learning-to-drive-inquiry


Column 4 (January/February 2018): Making Inquiry Critical: Examining Power and Inequity in the Classroom by Ryan M. Crowley, and LaGarrett J. King

What does it mean to approach inquiry from a critical perspective? It is not quite as simple as it may sound. We use the term critical in a way that is distinct from the broader educational goal of encouraging critical thinking. Although critical thinking is a crucial skill, our use of “critical” refers specifically to the use of critical theory. Critical theory is one of the predominant schools of thought in the social sciences. Like all theory, it is a framework used for explaining—and examining—something about the world. Critical theory pays special attention to the social world, focusing on the hierarchical nature of social relations and examining how these unequal power relationships lead to privilege for some and oppression for others.

A truly critical inquiry should identify unequal power relationships in society and offer students counter-narratives to transform unjust social relations.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/publications/socialeducation/january-february2018/making-inquiry-critical-examining-power-and-inequity-in-classroom 


Column 3 (November 2017): Calibrating Your “Compelling Compass”:  Teacher-Constructed Prompts to Assist Question Development by Rebecca Mueller

Since the publication of The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework in 2013, there has been growing interest in compelling questions and their impact on social studies instruction. But what exactly does “compelling” mean? How do teachers know when they have hit “the sweet spot between the qualities of being intellectually rigorous and relevant to students?”1 As more and more states include similar language in their own standards,2 it has become increasingly important to understand how classroom teachers conceive of compelling questions so we may learn from them and grow in our development and use of inquiry-based questions in social studies.

These key prompts can help social studies teachers and students gauge a compelling question’s rigor, relevance, and functionality.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/publications/socialeducation/november-december2017/calibrating-your-compelling-compass-teacher-constructed-prompts-to-assist-question-development


Column 2 (October 2017): Stimulating and Sustaining Inquiry with Students’ Questions by Our Colleagues at the Right Question Institute

It is crucial that students in the twenty-first century learn how to formulate and use questions, drive their own inquiries, and apply question formulation skills in their everyday lives. Students’ ability to formulate questions can help support learning both within and outside the classroom and is foundational for promoting democratic thinking and civic engagement beyond the classroom.

A simple yet rigorous technique enables students to develop their ability to ask questions as they plan and drive their own inquiries.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/81/5/stimulating-and-sustaining-inquiry-students-questions


Column 1 (September 2017): Questions that Compel and Support by S.G. Grant, Kathy Swan and John Lee

“What’s the difference between a compelling and supporting question, again?” Perhaps no other question arises more frequently than this one during the professional development sessions we lead. Teachers quickly grasp of the power of questions, but the line between a compelling and a supporting question can blur.

Successful inquiries using the C3 Framework depend on compelling questions that structure an inquiry and supporting questions that allow the inquiry to unfold coherently.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/publications/socialeducation/september2017/questions-that-compel-and-support


C3 Teachers Middle Level Learner Column

In 2023, C3 Teachers began a partnership with the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) to publish a Teaching the C3 Framework column in each issue of Social Education.  Edited by Mary Beth Yerdon, Kathy Swan, John Lee, and S.G. Grant, the column features articles about inquiry-based teaching and learning with inquiry.  Articles in our series appear below beginning with our most publication. Each entry includes a brief excerpt and link to the article at Social Education. An NCSS membership subscription is required to access most of the articles.


Column 2: (January/February 2023) Creating a Space for Hope Through Inquiry an Interview with Ckristina Bennett from Syracuse, New York

This might be Ckristina Bennett’s first full year in a social studies classroom, but she cut her teeth as a substitute teacher in the Syracuse City School District. This past fall, Ckristina brought her experience to one of Syracuse Latin School’s eighth-grade social studies classrooms. In her new classroom, Ckristina uses inquiry to support her culturally relevant and sustaining teaching. Despite the past year’s uptick in curricular oversight and controversy surrounding social studies content, Ckristina is not deflated. In fact, she says she sees hope in inquiry’s ability to facilitate relevant and sustaining content and for teaching the democratic discourse missing in our current social and political landscape. C3 Teachers sat down with Ckristina Bennett to discuss her first full year of teaching, using inquiry in the classroom, and teaching hard history by using an Inquiry Design Model (IDM) curricular loop

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/middle-level-learning/76/creating-space-hope-through-inquiry-interview-ckristina-bennett-syracuse


Column 1: (September/October 2022) C3 Teachers Talk Inquiry with First-Year
Teacher Deja Rivers

Heading into your first year of teaching is always tough, but against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, recent political turmoil and social unrest, and increasing public rhetoric and policy aimed at curricular censorship, Deja Rivers’s first year is sure to be filled with both expected and unexpected challenges. However, as a recent graduate of the University of Kentucky’s School of Education, Deja knows a thing or two about implementing inquiry in the classroom. C3 Teachers sat down with Deja Rivers to discuss her experience working with inquiry, her expectations and plans for her first full year, and how she might navigate some of the recent curricular legislation on teaching history.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/middle-level-learning/75/c3-teachers-talk-inquiry-first-year-teacher-deja-rivers


C3 Teachers Social Studies and Young Learner

 In 2022, C3 Teachers began a partnership with the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) to publish a Teaching the C3 Framework column in each issue of Social Education.  Edited by Emma Thacker Kathy Swan, John Lee, and S.G. Grant, the column features articles about designing inquiry-based curriculum and teaching with inquiry.  Articles in our series appear below beginning with our most publication. Each entry includes a brief excerpt and link to the article at Social Education. An NCSS membership subscription is required to access most of the articles.

Column 2: (March/April 2023) “This Is Your Moment—Seize It!” Barbara Johns, Black Agency, and the Empowerment of Youth by Beau Dickenson and Emma Thacker

In their article, Beau Dickerson and Emma Thacker provide counternarratives to traditional Civil Rights Movement instruction. Their IDM and classroom examples highlight young people’s agency, resilience, and dreams for the future.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-studies-and-young-learner/35/4/your-moment-seize-it-barbara-johns-black-agency-and

Column 1: (September/October 2022) So We Want Kindergarteners to Argue? Developing Argumentation Skills in the Kindergarten Classroom by Patricia Krizan

In this article, the author examines how the New York State Social Studies Resource Toolkit supports argument discourse in social studies and then explores a primary teach- er’s curricular and instructional decisions regarding the development of children’s argumentation skills. The study provides insights into how teachers can involve some of our youngest students in authentic, inquiry-based social studies learning that fosters argument discourse.

Read more at https://www.socialstudies.org/social-studies-and-young-learner/35/1/so-we-want-kindergarteners-argue-developing-argumentation



College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for State Social Studies Standards

The C3 Framework (National Council for the Social Studies, 2013) ushered in an important opportunity to articulate a common vernacular for and a curricular approach to inquiry. Featuring four distinct but inter-connected dimensions, the C3 Inquiry Arc lays out a process for supporting students to ask questions about our social world, use concepts and tools from the disciplines that make up social studies, analyze and argue about what they have learned, and apply that knowledge to the challenges that face our world today.

Learn more at https://www.socialstudies.org/c3





Teaching Social Studies: A Methods Book for Methods Teachers

This innovative methods book features short tasks designed to take preservice teachers deep into schools in general and into social studies education in particular. Organized around Joseph Schwab’s commonplaces of education and recognizing the role of inquiry as a preferred pedagogy in social studies, the book offers a series of short chapters that highlight learners and learning, subject matter, teachers and teaching, and school context.

Available from Amazon HERE






Teaching the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework: Exploring Inquiry-Based Instruction in Social Studies


Part I of our Teaching the C3 series consists of model lessons contributed by 15 social studies curricular organizations. Each lesson encompasses the whole of the C3 Inquiry Arc from questioning to action, engages students in a meaningful content experience that fits a typical curriculum, and needs between 2 and 5 days of instruction. There are lessons for all grade bands from K-2 to 9-12.

Published in conjunction with the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). Learn more HERE





Teaching the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework, Part 2.

The powerful social studies inquiries in this book bring the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework to life. They are based on the Inquiry Design Model (IDM), a curricular approach that animates social studies standards and integrates the four dimensions of the C3 Inquiry Arc.

The editors of this book invited outstanding social studies curricular organizations to take the “IDM challenge” and contribute units based on IDM blueprints about topics that are central to K-12 social studies. The resulting inquiries cover an impressive range of subjects: teaching students about the concept of money and how to understand maps; engaging students in historical investigations of Indian Removal, slavery and the failure of Reconstruction, and the Holocaust; exploring social changes such as the historical impact of bicycles and the present-day effects of the use of robots in manufacturing; and dealing with current issues such as gun control, media literacy, the minimum wage, and the controversy over school bathrooms. We are pleased to feature inquiries from an impressive array of organizations and colleagues in the collaborative spirit of the C3 Framework.


  • Digital Public Library of America
  • Echoes and Reflections
  • Facing History and Ourselves
  • Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
  • Ford’s Theater
  • National Constitution Center
  • National Geographic Society
  • National Museum of American History
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • Project Look Sharp
  • Teaching Tolerance
  • University of Delaware Center for Economic Education
  • Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Economic Education

This book is a companion volume to the popular NCSS publication, Teaching the C3 Framework. Published in conjunction with the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), the Teaching the C3 books are available from the NCSS store HERE

Should we tax robots? A sample blueprint from the book is available HERE.




Inquiry-Based Global Learning in the K–12 Social Studies Classroom

Edited By Brad M. Maguth, Gloria Wu

This book, edited by experienced scholars in the field, brings together a diverse array of educators to showcase lessons, activities, and instructional strategies that advance inquiry-oriented global learning. Directly aligned to the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standard, this work highlights ways in which global learning can seamlessly be interwoven into the disciplines of history, economics, geography, civics, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Recently adopted by the National Council for the Social Studies, the nation’s largest professional organization of history and social studies teachers, the C3 Framework prioritizes inquiry-oriented learning experiences across the social studies disciplines in order to advance critical thinking, problem solving, and participatory skills for engaged citizenship.

Available from Routledge here





Race Lessons: Using Inquiry to Teach About Race in Social Studies

Addressing the space between the theoretical and the practical, this edited book provides teachers and teacher educators with concrete lesson ideas for how to engage learners with social studies content and race. This work is unique in that it represents an attempt to use Critical Race Theory and inquiry pedagogy (Inquiry Design Model) to teach about race in the social science disciplines.


Edited by:
Prentice T. Chandler, Austin Peay State University
Todd S. Hawley, Kent State University



More Articles about the C3 Framework and the Inquiry Design Model

Below is a listing of recent scholarship on C3 Framework inspire inquiry-based teaching and learning. Many of the articles list below focus specifically on the Inquiry Design Model (IDM). Also listed are recent dissertations on inquiry and IDM. Articles are list below in chronological order with the most recent publications listed first.



Casey, E. M. (2021). "Can Pre-K Use C3? Exploring the Usefulness of the C3 Framework with Prekindergarten Students and their Teacher in an Inquiry on Landmarks." The Social Studies 112(4): 161-176.

Cuenca, A. (2021). Proposing core practices for social studies teacher education: A qualitative content analysis of inquiry-based lessons. Journal of Teacher Education, 72(3), 298-313.

Roberts, S. L., & Clabough, J. (2021). Using the C3 Framework to evaluate the legacy of southern segregationist Senators. The Social Studies 112(4), 190-198.

Tate, M. P. (2021). How do we help create the land of the free? Inquiring about environmental justice and mass incarceration. Oregon Journal of the Social Studies, 9(2), 39-49.


Bickford, J. H., & Clabough, J. (2020). Civic action, historical agency, and grassroots advocacy: Historical inquiry into freedom summer. The Social Studies, 111(1), 39-49.

Carr, J. M., & Kruggel, J. (2020). Lights, camera, student voice: Using technology to address and explore economics within the C3 Framework. Journal of International Social Studies, 10(1), 210-220.

Casey, E. M. (2020). What's my favorite landmark? Investigating pre-kindergartener's interests and abilities during a C3 Framework inquiry. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 33(2), 9-13.

​​Clabough, J. (2020). Migrating away from Jim Crow: Using the C3 Framework to teach the Great Migration. The Councilor: A Journal of the Social Studies, 82(2), 4.

Clabough, J. (2020). Using the C3 Framework to analyze 2020 Democratic candidates’ public policies for Iowa. Iowa Journal for the Social Studies, 28(1), 73-86.

Hagan, H. N., Fegely, A. G., & Warriner III, G. H. (2020). Using virtual reality (VR) to enhance C3 Framework inquiry. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 32(4), 10-15.

Manfra, M., Lee, J., & Grant, M. (2020). Designing inquiry during a pandemic: A professional learning experience. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 28(2), 273-283.

Muetterties, C., & Darolia, L. H. (2020). Considering different perspectives in children's literature: An inquiry approach that promotes civic learning. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 33(1), 22-27.

Rapoport, A. (2020). The C3 Framework and representation of global citizenship in state standards. In J. P. Myers. Research on teaching global issues: Pedagogy for global citizenship education, pp.51-68. Charlotte, N.C.: Information Age Press.


Bronstein, E., & Halvorsen, A. L. (2019). Inquiry, investigations, and integration: Innovations in middle school history and writing. (Media Review). Theory and Research in Social Education https://doi.org/10.1080/00933104.2019.1632130.

Brugar, K. A. (2019). Inquiry by the book: Using children’s nonfiction as mentor texts for inquiry. The Social Studies, 110(4), 155-160.

Caffrey, G., & Journell, W. (2019). Humanizing disciplinary civic education at the elementary level: An exploration of immigration and the humanitarian crisis at the U.S./Mexico border. Oregon Journal of the Social Studies 7(2). pp. 26-54.

Casey, E. M., DiCarlo, C. F., & Sheldon, K. L. (2019). Growing democratic citizenship competencies: Fostering social studies understandings through inquiry learning in the preschool garden. The Journal of Social Studies Research. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jssr.2018.12.001

Cook, R., & Yoder, P. J. (2019). Finding Dewey and the C3 Framework: Lessons from a government unit on local history. Oregon Journal of the Social Studies 7(2), 55-76.

Day, S., & Bae, C. L. (2019). Developing Authentic Performance Assessment in a Classroom Mini-Economy. Design Research in Social Studies Education: Critical Lessons from an Emerging Field, 84.

Fraker, J., Muetterties, C., Swan, G., & Swan, K. (2019). Can the Civics Test Make You a Good Citizen? Reconciling the Civics Test with Inquiry-Based Instruction. Social Education, 83(6), 343-349.

Halvorsen, A. L., Harris, L. M., Doornbos, L., & Missias, M. T. (2019). Community in Context: Professional Development for Teaching Historical Inquiry. Teacher Education Quarterly, 46(2), 81-114.

Hammack, R. (2019). Teaching inquiry through the music of the Civil Rights Movement. Iowa Journal for the Social Studies 27(1). 22-32.

Keefer, N. (2019). Creating an instruction manual for sustainable development: A case study inquiry. Oregon Journal of the Social Studies 7(2). pp. 116-129.

Masyada, S., & Washington, E. Y. (2019). Creating the citizen: Critical literacy, civics, and the C3 Framework in social studies. In Critical Literacy Initiatives for Civic Engagement (pp. 94-122). IGI Global.

Molebash, P. E., Lee, J. K., & Heinecke, W. F. (2019). Teaching and Learning Inquiry Framework. Journal of Curriculum and Teaching, 8(1), 20-31.

Marino, M. P., & Crocco, M. S. (2019). The pre-service practicum experience and inquiry-oriented pedagogy: Evidence from student teachers׳ lesson planning. The Journal of Social Studies Research. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jssr.2019.02.001

Muetterties, C., Masterson, E., & Slocum, C. (2019). What is a Vote Worth? Using Primary Sources to Propel Elementary Inquiry Practices. The Social Studies.

Muetterties, C. & Swan, K. (2019). Be the Change: Making Sense of Taking Informed Action. Social Education, 83(4), 232-237.

Spires, H. A., Himes, M. P., Paul, C. M., & Kerkhoff, S. N. (2019). Going global with Project: Based Inquiry: Cosmopolitan literacies in practice. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy.

Vigil, A. (2019). Using the C3 Framework in Middle School. Social Studies Review, 58, 78-82.


Clouse, T. C. (2018). Critical geographic inquiry: teaching AP Human Geography by examining space and place. Social Studies Research and Practice, 13(2), 224-237.

Fitchett, P. G., & Meuwissen, K. W. (2018). How and to what extent does education policy unite the discipline of history to the academic subject of social studies, and is this a fruitful union?. In Social Studies in the New Education Policy Era (pp. 98-116). Routledge.

Knapp, K. A., & Hopkins, A. (2018). What’s the Buzz? A K-5 School Uses the C3 Framework. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 30(3), 9-13.

Journell, W., Friedman, A. M., Thacker, E. S., & Fitchett, P. G. (2018). Getting inquiry design just right. Social Education, 82(4), 202-205.

Mueller, R. G. (2018). Examining teachers’ development and implementation of compelling questions. Social Studies Research and Practice, 13(1), 1-15.

Muetterties, C., & Haney, J. (2018). How Did Slavery Shape My State: Using Inquiry to Explore Kentucky History. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 30(3), 20-25.

Paska, L. M. (2018). Does inquiry change learning?: Geography and the C3 framework. The Geography Teacher, 15(1), 5-8.

Thacker, E. (2018). Implementing K-6 inquiries together. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 30(3), 2-3

Thacker, E. S., Friedman, A. M., Fitchett, P. G., Journell, W., & Lee, J. K. (2018). Exploring how an elementary teacher plans and implements social studies inquiry. The Social Studies, 109(2), 85-100.

Thacker, E. S., Lee, J. K., Fitchett, P. G., & Journell, W. (2018). Secondary social studies teachers’ experiences planning and implementing inquiry using the Inquiry Design Model. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 91(4-5), 1-8..

Washburn, E. K., & Olbrys, S. (2018). Using student-centered teaching: Inspiring and empowering teachers and learners. From Head to Heart: High Quality Teaching Practices in the Spotlight, 21.


Berson, I. R., Berson, M. J., & Snow, B. (2017). KidCitizen: Designing an app for inquiry with primary sourcesSocial Education81(2), 105-108.

Crocco, M. S., & Marino, M. P. (2017). Promoting inquiry-oriented teacher preparation in social studies through the use of local historyThe Journal of Social Studies Research41(1), 1-10.

Endacott, J. L., Woodworth, A., Barr, R., Jamell, F., Ripplemeyer, J., Sneed, N., … & Harris, E. (2017). Generating student-based inquiry using compelling questions from the world of sportsSocial Education81(4), 218-222.

Hong, J. E., & Melville, A. (2017). Training social studies teachers to develop inquiry-based GIS lessonsJournal of Geography, 1-16.

Hutton, L., & Hembacher, D. (2017). Create Space for History-Social Science in Elementary Classrooms to Foster Content Knowledge, Inquiry, Literacy, and CitizenshipSocial Studies Review56, 44-50.

Long, E. R. (2017). Visions of the possible: Case studies of how social studies teachers enact the C3 Framework. Published Dissertation, North Carolina State University.

McCall, A. L. (2017). Teaching children about the global economy: Integrating inquiry with human rights. The Social Studies108(4), 136-142.

Saye, J. W. (2017). Disciplined inquiry in social studies classrooms. In M. M. Manfra & C. M. Bolick (Eds.). The Wiley Handbook of Social Studies Research, 336-359. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.

Thacker, E., & Friedman, A. (2017). Social studies teachers’ design and use of inquiry modulesContemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 17(3), 360-387.

Thacker, E. S., Lee, J. K., & Friedman, A. M. (2017). Teaching with the C3 Framework: Surveying teachers׳ beliefs and practicesThe Journal of Social Studies Research41(2), 89-100.

Thacker, E. S., Hicks, D., & Friedman, A. M. (2017). It might not be a matter of life or death, but does soccer really explain the world?. Social Education81(4), 234-238.

Thacker, E., & Friedman, A. (2017). Three Social Studies Teachers’ Design and Use of Inquiry ModulesContemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education17(3), 360-387.


Chick, K. A., & Corle, S. (2016). Confronting gender imbalance in high school history textbooks through the C3 FrameworkSocial Studies Research & Practice11(2), 1-16.

Heafner, T. L., Zimmerman, A., Triplett, N., & Journell, W. (2016). Bridging reading and writing through C3 inquirySocial Education, 80 (6), 343-349.

Manfra, M. M., & Greiner, J. A. (2016). Technology and disciplined inquiry in the world history classroomSocial Education80(2), 123-128.

Marston, C., & Handler, L. K. (2016). Making social studies shine: Strategies for implementing the C3 Framework in elementary classroomsSocial Education80(6), 365-369.

Marri, A. R. (2016). Fostering Economic literacy for k–12 students through the College, career, and civic Life (C3) Framework. Innovations in Economic Education: Promising Practices for Teachers and Students, K-16, 171-184.

Yoder, P. J., Johnson, A. P., & Karam, F. J. (2016). (Mis)perceptions of Arabs and Arab-Americans: How can social studies teachers disrupt the stereotypes?. In W. Journal (Ed.). Teaching Social Studies in an Era of Divisiveness: The Challenges of Discussing Social Issues in a Non-Partisan Way, 63-78. London: Rowman & Littlefield.


Lee, J., Swan, K., & Grant, S. G. (2015). By teachers, for teachers: The NYS toolkit and C3 teachers. Social Education, 79(5), 325-328.

Pedaste, M., Mäeots, M., Siiman, L. A., De Jong, T., Van Riesen, S. A., Kamp, E. T., … & Tsourlidaki, E. (2015). Phases of inquiry-based learning: Definitions and the inquiry cycleEducational research review14, 47-61.

Swan, K., Lee, J., & Grant, S. G. (2015). The New York State Toolkit and the Inquiry Design Model: Anatomy of an inquiry. Social Education 79(5), 316–322.

Young, T. A., & Miner, A. B. (2015). Guiding Inquiry With Biography Breaks and the C3 Framework: Can One Person Make a Difference?The Reading Teacher69(3), 311-319.


Hicks, D., Lee, J., & Shires, S. (2014). Inquiring about the causes of World War I with Chronozoom. Social Education 78(3), 117-122.


VanSledright, B. (2013). "Can assessment improve learning? Thoughts on the C3 framework." Social Education 77(6): 334-338.


Brown, S. N. (2018). The Role of the Professional Learning Team (PLT) in the Planning, Teaching, and Assessment of Inquiry-based Learning in Social Studies. North Carolina State University.

Bidwell, R. M. (2021). The Marriage of Public Issues and Civic Action-A Case Study on Integrating Public Issues into the C3 Framework. University of Alabama at Birmingham

Day, S. H. (2015). How Elementary Teachers Use Classroom Mini-Economies When Guided by the C3 Framework. North Carolina State University.

Doornbos, L. (2018). Inquiry into Teacher Learning: Secondary Teachers’ Historical Inquiry Practices Following a Sustained Professional Learning Experience. Michigan State University.

Gallagher, J. L. (2017). Inquiries that matter: How social studies teachers employ historical inquiry practices to support social justice civic goals. Iowa State University

Greiner, J. A. (2019). Using the C3 Inquiry Arc to Teach Critical Issues in a Social Studies Classroom. North Carolina State University.

Krizan, P. I. (2018). K-2 Social Studies: Vygotsky, Inquiry, and ArgumentationState University of New York at Binghamton.

Long, E. R. (2017). Visions of the Possible: Case Studies of How Social Studies Teachers Enact the C3 Framework. North Carolina State University.

Mueller, R. G. W. (2016). Questioning as a civic act: An examination of how social studies teachers define, develop, and cultivate questions for inquiry. University of Kentucky

Phillips, A. (2018). High School Students’ Experiences with Social Studies Inquiry and Technology in Two History Classrooms. Northern Illinois University

Pugh, S. M. (2018). The Initial Implementation Patterns of the C3 Framework in Maryland School Districts University of Maryland.

Serure, D. F. (2018).  The Current State of Secondary Social Studies in Western New York. State University of New York at Buffalo

Smith, J. (2017). The Impact of National Curriculum Changes in Social Studies on Teachers and Administrators at an Independent Study Charter High School. California Lutheran University,

Thacker, E. (2014). Smooth Sailing Through Stormy Seas? High School Social Studies Teachers Navigating Their Informal Professional Learning. University of Kentucky.

Our C3 Briefs series examines emerging issues related to teacher and learning with C3 Framework inspired inquiry. Be on the lookout for more as we continue to examine the frontiers of inquiry and the Inquiry Design Model.



IDM Assumptions

The Inquiry Design Model (IDM) is a distinctive approach to creating curriculum and instructional materials that honors teachers’ knowledge and expertise, avoids over-prescription, and focuses on the central elements of the instructional design process as envisioned in the Inquiry Arc of the C3 Framework.

As an instructional framework, IDM builds out from the C3 Inquiry Arc through: a) compelling and supporting questions that frame and give structure to the inquiry (Dimension 1); b) summative, formative, and additional performance tasks that provide the opportunities for communicating conclusions (Dimension 4); and c) disciplinary sources that allow students to explore the compelling question, build content expertise, and develop the disciplinary skills to successfully support and defend their ideas (Dimensions 2 & 3). Unique to the IDM is the blueprint, a one-page representation of the questions, tasks, and sources that define a curricular inquiry.

IDM is rooted in 10 conceptual principles, based in research and practice that align with the ambitions of the C3 Framework and speak to the conceptual and pedagogical coherence of the Inquiry Design Model. These ten principles are summarized in this brief.

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C3 Framework Instructional Shifts

TeachersThe C3 Framework represents the ideas and practices that ambitious social studies teachers have long believed and practiced: ideas, and the questions that frame them, matter; disciplinary knowledge is necessary, but not sufficient for powerful social studies teaching and learning; social studies is about making and supporting arguments and using sources thoughtfully; and students need a range of outlets and opportunities to try out and revise their conclusions. As represented in the C3 Inquiry Arc, these ideas and practices set a challenge for students and thus require teachers to shift instruction to meet these new challenges.


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Cultivating and Nurturing Collaborative Civic Spaces


With clear learning goals and the organizing structure of an Inquiry Arc, the C3 Framework supports teachers by providing them with an instructional pathway for fostering student-citizens who can both think for themselves and collaborate with others. With a focus on building inquiry skills and key concepts—within a collaborative civic space—the C3 Framework breaths new life into John Dewey’s (1916) assertion that, in order for democracy to function as it should, teachers must provide students with opportunities to experience democracy in schools. So how do C3 social studies teachers cultivate and nurture collaborative civic spaces in their classrooms? In this Brief, I draw on my experiences teaching social studies in the K-12 setting and respond to the question by offering three strategies from the philosophy for children Hawai‘i (p4cHI) approach to deliberative pedagogy. p4cHI is part of an international movement that aims to convert traditional classrooms into intellectually safe democratic communities of inquiry by engaging students and teachers in the activity of philosophy.

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Questions, Frameworks, and Classrooms


The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards (or C3 Framework) (National Council for the Social Studies, 2013) puts forward a vision for what inquiry-based teaching and learning can look like in social studies. A vision for inquiry is one thing, actually committing to and enacting this vision is another. To that end, C3 Teachers has partnered with the Right Question Institute (RQI) to tackle what is perhaps the thorniest problem in implementing the C3 Framework—helping students become confident and proficient in asking their own questions.

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