Teaching with inquiry is about activating young people’s curiosity and developing their skills as critical thinkers and problem solvers. It has been on the rise for the past years, thanks to the efforts of the C3teachers, the Center for Inspired Teaching, InspirEd, the Stanford History Education Group and other inquiry-focused institutions.
But it is still hard to do. Teachers shy away from inquiry because the lessons can seem like they are not going to cover core material, they are far less directed and more discussion-based, and finding good primary resources and guides to lead effective inquiry-based lessons can be hard. We have seen that creating a local learning community helps to accelerate this practice.
We started as a network committed to supporting teachers in teaching with inquiry. We extended our work to enable collaborations that create inquiry-based lesson plans leveraging the resources and wisdom of our local museums and cultural institutions. These inquiries are specifically geared to encouraging civic growth, while falling into the framework of state standards. These are place-based, civic-learning focused inquiries. Through the Collaborative infrastructure of our Mighty Network, we want to help communities become incubators of inspired inquiry.
This inquiry, designed by a Middle School teacher and a contemporary art museum, leads students through an investigation of Ancient Mesopotamia to have them consider the importance geography had on its development and how this is relevant to them today. It is important to note that these characteristics are relevant to all River Valley Civilizations, and these questions could be asked of Egypt, India, and China as well.
This inquiry, designed by a high school teacher and a Presidential Library, leads students through an investigation of presidential power and how that power has changed over time by exploring the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, as well as famous executive orders and Supreme Court cases during the Presidency of Harry S Truman.
This inquiry, designed by a high school teacher in partnership with the Public Library, leads students through an investigation of Chicano culture, identity, history, and resistance to discrimination and cultural assimilation. By exploring the compelling questions about the importance of cultural identity students will consider their own cultural identity and then in turn, analyze Chicano culture in America. Students will investigate the conditions facing Mexican-Americans from the time of the Mexican-American War (1848) through the 1960s.
This inquiry, designed by a high school teacher and a local history society, leads students through an investigation of the causes of the American Civil War through a study of national and local (Jackson County, MO) history. Students will make connections between the current issue of removing Confederate statues to the history of the division between slave and free-soil states prior to the Civil War.
This inquiry, designed by a high school teacher in partnership with the Dole Institute of Politics, leads students through an investigation of how 18-year-olds were given this right during a time in history where they were being asked to fight and die for their country yet were unable to elect the people who were deciding to make them do so.
This inquiry, designed by a middle school teacher and the local history society, leads students through an investigation of the history of the Fort Osage School District, how it got its name and why this is important to them today given the social and political climate around the use of Native American names and symbols.
Flexibility allows adaptation of source material to specific group of learners
Varied sources help students understand others’ perspectives and bridge across differences.
Local museum resources help students connect historical topics to their local community and current issues.
Inquiry encourages young people to ask questions, find answers, and work with sources
Inquiries include an action component that allows students to engage in their community.
Questions touch on core concepts of democracy, allowing students to learn civic content through history.