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30 Essential Question Cards That Guide Historical Inquiry

Purpose: To Help Facilitate Historical Inquiry

In the context of historical inquiry, there are certain questions that students of history fall back on to guide historical thinking.  These questions emerge from what it means to 'think historically', and are inquiry anchors within the discipline of History.

These question cards are based on the 'habits of mind' of thinking historically.  The framing of historical questions is a keystone to historical inquiry, since, when it comes to questions 'you get what asked for'.

a) Historical Significance (3 Question Variations...)

b) Movie in My Mind (3 Question Variations)

c) The What If's of History (3 Question Variations)

d) Empathy (3 Question Variations)

e) Causality (3)

f) Consequence (3)

g) Change (3)

h) Chronology (Situate in Time) (3)

i)  Find in Space (on a map...) (3)

j) Asking Quesitons (3 variations)

When it comes to the ways in which the cards can be used, there are many.

First, this set makes for a perfect set of 'task cards'.  Students can easily drive their own inquiries using the cards.  If a student, for example, finishes class work early, and has some idle time, they can be referred to this set of inquiry questions (which in this context now represents 'task cards') and then the student can choose a historical topic, and then go about an student driven inquiry. 

There are no 'rules' per se in terms of the order of cards that a student would use to initiate their thinking and research.  A student has 'control' over their inquiry trajectory as this point, and that empowers the student to make their own inquiry decisions, and using the cards means that they are dealing with evidence informed and research based historical thinking questions (presented in a fun and yet research based manner!)

Another application is that a teacher can pre-select from the cards, the questions for a given class that students will work with for a given topic.

When class starts, the teacher can:

a) place students in small groups of 2-3

b) give each group a document collection that contains images and text (or show images and text on a smartboard...is another option!)

c) provide each group with a set of the Time Traveller Question Cards

d) Indicate to each group (or the whole class) which questions cards they will use to guide their inquiry for the class.

Generally speaking, students will need a little bit of guidance in terms of which cards to use for the type of historical thinking the teachers wants to work on, for any given learning context.

The cards themselves will certainly provide teachers with many ideas as to how to set up learning situations, by using certain cards at certain times in a lesson.

Total Pages
10 pages
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Teaching Duration
Lifelong tool
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