The Virginia Inquiry Collaborative
Virginia’s History and Social Science Standards of Learning (SOL) emphasize the importance of developing students’ skills through social studies content. Revised in 2015, the SOL identify social science skills which recognize “the interrelationships between history, geography, economics, and civics content. The development of these skills is important in order for students to become better-informed citizens.” One way to foster student curiosity and ability to navigate a range of informational sources is to ask classes to investigate compelling questions generated by both teachers and students. These open-ended, relevant, and thought-provoking questions can be revisited by students as they revise their claims and justification. Indeed, it is through inquiry that students can best construct their understanding of the past and become active participants of society in the present.
In June of 2020, approximately 80 teachers partnered with experts from museums, historic sites, and academic institutions to begin designing inquiries with the expressed purpose of creating a more anti racist, anti biased, and culturally responsive curricula. These inquiries were designed using the Inquiry Design Model (IDM), a distinctive approach to creating curriculum and instructional materials that honors teachers’ knowledge and expertise, avoids over prescription, and focuses on the main elements of the instructional design process as envisioned in the Inquiry Arc of the C3 Framework.
This inquiry leads students to examine the ways that African Americans were leading voices in an ongoing effort to guarantee equal rights and freedoms for all people in the United States. Contrary to the oft repeated narrative that the US Government benevolently granted freedoms to African Americans, the questions, tasks, and sources in this inquiry
This inquiry focuses on the causes of the American Revolution in light of feelings of injustice among social classes. Students typically learn about the experiences of people during the American Revolution in simple categories such as loyalist and patriots. In reality, there were varied experiences that reflect social class, gender, race, and ethnicity. In this
This inquiry focuses on the question of whether Antebellum technology made life better overall for people and how certain inventions impacted groups of people differently. Four innovations—the cotton gin, mechanical reaper, steamboat, and steam locomotive—were particularly impactful in the 19th century. These inventions came about quickly as part of the First Industrial Revolution, which was
This inquiry leads students through an investigation of historical and contemporary US immigration policy and how the policies stack up against the idea that United States is a “nation of immigrants.”. It is part of a series of lessons commissioned by the Democracy Project at the University of Virginia centered around the podcast Democracy in
This inquiry leads students through an investigation of historical and contemporary social, political, and economic issues posed by mass incarceration. It is part of a series of lessons commissioned by the Democracy Project at the University of Virginia centered around the podcast Democracy in Danger. Democracy in Danger lessons share some basic characteristics. The compelling
This inquiry leads students through an investigation of the right to vote as articulated (or not) in the Constitution and the historical and current challenges with voting and election administration. In addressing the compelling question, students will consider the connection of voting to the functioning of our democratic-republic. Students will then investigate what the text
This inquiry leads students through an investigation of the challenges posed by hate groups to young people as a lens for understanding the problems posed by xenophobia more broadly. It is part of a series of lessons commissioned by the Democracy Project at the University of Virginia centered around the podcast Democracy in Danger. Democracy
This inquiry leads students through an investigation of what can be done about our polluted media environment. The inquiry uses an ecological metaphor to understand our media environment to better understand the causes, effects, and potential solutions to addressing the problem. The inquiry sets up a dichotomy in the ways to potentially address the problem.
This inquiry focuses on the myriad of injustices inflicted upon people of color during the colonial period, and how these early interactions and acts of oppression provided a foundation for the racial injustices still experienced in America today. From Europeans’ first contact with American Indians, to the subjugation of African slaves, a hierarchy based on