4 Student Led Inquiry Lessons to Foster Learning Independence in Social Studies

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    1. Independent Learning Labs (Inquiry Based)These inquiry based learning labs have been refined through much classroom trial. With the inquiry approach presented, students experience the excitement of taking much more agency and responsibility over their own learning; helping them to develop a 'relatio
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    Curiosity Labs for Inquiry Based Learning are designed for:

    a) extremely high student engagement

    b) thinking sequences that lend themselves to whole class discussion

    c) inquiry in which the class builds knowledge together and where students play a central role in the learning process.

    d) teaching students the specific thinking and inquiry skills to be able to drive their own learning (leading towards increased inquiry autonomy)

    The inquiry model presented in this download carefully draws out the innate curiosity and prior knowledge of each student, through the research based practices of activating prior knowledge, observation, the question formation technique, question selection and question categorization; this steps situate students to then choose their one burning question to research further. This is followed by corroboration of research and then synthesis of findings.

    Questions and the desire to answer them give life to inquiry. Questions arise from students’ innate curiosity about the world and from their efforts to make sense of how that world works. Central to a rich social studies experience is the capability for developing questions that ca n frame and advance an inquiry. (from the C3 framework)

    Inquiry All-Stars is classroom tested, contains therefor both the theoretical underpinnings of research based practice as well as design that caters to the 'reality' of the classroom teacher.

    In a nutshell...

    The Inquiry Arc comprises four areas: “one focused on questioning and inquiry; another on disciplinary knowledge and concepts relating to civics, economics, geography, and history; another on evaluating and using evidence; and a final one on communicating and taking action.” The basic idea is that students ask or are given compelling questions and then investigate those questions, evaluate and find evidence to answer them, and communicate their answers.'LINK

    Stay TUNED FOR the following inquiry labs to be developed during the 2019-2021 school yea !

    Abraham Lincoln - with Gen. McClellan, Civil War (1862)

    Abraham Lincoln's Tomb (Springfield, IL), Andrew Jackson

    Battle of New Orleans (War of 1812)

    Andrew Johnson - Campaign Poster (1864)

    Barack Obama - Cabinet Meeting (2009)

    Benjamin Harrison - Inauguration (1899)

    Bill Clinton - State of the Union (1997)

    Calvin Coolidge - Osage Indians (1924)Chester Arthur - Yellowstone Expedition (1883)

    Dwight Eisenhower - West Point Football Team (1912)

    First Ladies - Washington, Kennedy, Reagan, Obama, Five Presidents, Franklin Pierce General in Mexican-American War (1847)

    Franklin Roosevelt - age 2 (1884)

    George H. Bush - WWII Pilot (1944)

    George W. Bush Inaugural Parade (2005), George Washington - 1861

    Confederate $50, Gerald Ford - Oval Office, George W. Bush - Ground Zero, NY (2001)

    Grover Cleveland - at William McKinley's Inauguration (1897)

    Harry Truman - 1948 election, Harry Truman - WWI Uniform (1918)

    Herbert Hoover - With Earhart (1932), James Buchanan - with Cabinet (1859)

    James Garfield - Birthplace Log Cabin (1831), James Madison - $5000 Bill (1928-34)

    James Monroe - Postage Stamp (1904)

    James Polk - Campaign Banner (1844), Jimmy Carter - Riding Bicycle (2008), John & John Q. Adams' Tombs (Quincy, MA), John Adams - 1776 Declaration of Independence (Hand on Hip), John Kennedy - Son under Desk

    John Kennedy - WWII Navy Boat PT109 (1943

    John Kennedy Grave - Arlington National Cemetery, John Tyler - Receiving News of Harrison's Death from Chief Clerk, Lyndon Johnson - Civil Rights Meeting (1964)

    Martin Van Buren - Birthplace Sign (Kinderhook, NY), Millard Fillmore's House - East Aurora, NY (1826-1830)

    Mount Rushmore, Richard Nixon - Apollo 11 Astronauts (1969), Ronald Reagan (Speech 1982), Rutherford Hayes - Wedding Day with Lucy (1852)

    Theodore Roosevelt - Spanish-American War (1898)

    Theodore Roosevelt Inauguration (1905)

    Thomas Jefferson - Monticello House

    Trump Tower - New York

    Ulysses Grant - Lee surrenders to Gen. Grant (1865)

    Ulysses Grant's Tomb (New York City)

    Warren Harding - Presidential Train, Alaska (1923)

    William Harrison - Final Day (1841)

    William McKinley - Signing Treaty of Paris (1898)

    William Taft - Learning of His Presidential Nomination (1908)

    Woodrow Wilson Baseball (1916), Zachary Taylor - Leading Battle of Palo Alto (1848)

    Alabama - Birmingham 1915, Alabama - Shuttle Enterprise - Marshall Flight Space Center, Center, Alaska - Chilkoot Trail Klondike Gold Rush, 1898, Alaska - Denali National Park, Alaska - Mt. Denali

    Antarctica - U.S. South Pole Research Station

    Arizona - Grand Canyon, Arizona - Monument Valley, Arkansas - Little Rock Nine 1957

    Arkansas - White River, California - Golden Gate Bridge, California - Los Angeles

    California - Morro Bay, California - Pismo Beach

    California - San Francisco, Cable Car

    California - San Francisco, Coit Tower

    California - San Francisco, Downtown

    California - San Francisco

    Fisherman’s Wharf,

    California - San Francisco, Russian Hill

    California - San Francisco, Victorian Houses

    California - Santa Barbara

    California - Venice Beach

    California - Yosemite Half Dome

    California - Yosemite National Park

    Colorado - Cliff Palace

    Mesa Verde National Park

    Colorado - Four Corners, Connecticut - Barndoor Hills, Connecticut - Bridgeport Railroad

    Delaware - Legislative Hall, Dover, Delaware - University of Delaware

    Florida - Kennedy Space Center, Florida - Walt Disney World

    Orlando, Georgia - Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, 1864

    Georgia - Savannah Historical District, Hawaii - Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii - USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor, 1941

    Hawaii - Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Idaho - potato field, Idaho - Shoshone Falls, Illinois - Chicago, Illinois - Chicago, Illinois - Lincoln's home, Indiana - Indianapolis 500 in 1912

    Indiana - scenery, Iowa - farm 1875

    Iowa - harvest, Kansas - Capitol in Topeka

    Kansas - tornado

    Kentucky - Governor's mansion, Frankfort, Kentucky - Kentucky Derby,

    Kentucky - Mammoth Cave National Park, Louisiana - Creole food

    Louisiana - Mississippi River steamboat

    Maine - moose, state animal, Maine - rugged coastline

    Maryland - Ft. Mc Henry

    Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis

    Massachusetts - Battle of Bunker Hill

    1775, Massachusetts - Mayflower at Plymouth

    1620, Massachusetts - Minuteman statue

    Michigan - Detroit auto show, Michigan - Mackinac Bridge walk, Minnesota - ice fishing tournament Minnesota - Paul Bunyan and Babe

    Mississippi - Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi - blues music

    Mississippi River, Missouri - Gateway Arch

    Missouri - Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri - WWI Liberty Memorial

    Kansas City

    Montana - Elkhorn ghost town, Montana - Glacier National Park

    Nebraska - Chimney Rock, Oregon Trail

    Nebraska - homesteaders, Nevada - Hoover Dam

    Nevada - Las Vegas

    New Hampshire - Covered Bridge


    New Hampshire - shipyard

    New Jersey - crossing the Delaware at Battle of Trenton 1776

    New Jersey - Seaside Heights, New Mexico - ballooning

    New Mexico - Taos Pueblo

    New York - New York City

    New York - New York City skyscraper

    New York - Niagara Falls Inquiry 

    New York - Statue of Liberty

    North Carolina - Blue Ridge Mountains

    North Carolina - Lost Colony of Roanoke

    North Dakota - Ft. Mandan

    Lewis & Clark winter camp

    North Dakota - oil boom, 

    Ohio - Amish

    Ohio - King's Island, Oklahoma - Land Rush 1889

    Oklahoma - Route 66, Oregon - Crater Lake Oregon - Portland, Pennsylvania - Independence Hall, Pennsylvania - Pittsburgh

    Rhode Island - Newport Harbor, Rhode Island - Providence

     South Carolina - gristmill

    South Carolina - Myrtle Beach, South Dakota - Badlands

    South Dakota - Mt. Rushmore, Tennessee - Nashville, Tennessee - Shiloh Battlefield, Texas - Alamo, Texas - Dallas High Five Interchange

    U.S. Territory - San Juan

    Puerto Rico, U.S. Territory - U.S. Virgin Islands

    USA - Blue Angels Airshow, USA - Open Range Cowboys

    USA - Physical Map

    USA - Upper Midwest, fall

    Utah - Bonneville Salt Flats

     Utah - Bryce Canyon

    Utah - Salt Lake City Mormon Temple

    Vermont - maple syrup

    Vermont - Montpelier

    Virginia - Monticello

    Jefferson's Home

    Virginia - The Governor's Palace

    Williamsburg, Washington - Seattle Space Needle

    Washington - Seattle Space Needle II

    Washington - tulip fields, Washington

    D.C. - Capitol, Washington, D.C. - Capitol building

    Washington, D.C. - Lincoln Memorial

    Washington, D.C. - White House, West Virginia - coal miners

    West Virginia - small town, Wisconsin - dairy farm,

    Greta Thunberg Inquiry

    Climate Change


    Vimy Ridge

    World War One

    World War Two

    Canadians in World War One

    The Electoral College

    Andy Warhol

    The Crusades

    American History

    First Nations


    Indian Act

    Riel Inquiry



    Plains of Abraha

     Metis Inquiry


    Plains Cree Inquiry

     Big Bear

    American West

    Western Expansion


    Manifest Destiny

    John Quincy Adams

    Delaware, Boston

    New York

    13 Colonies Inquiry Based

    Checks and Balances


    Rights and Responsibilities

    Supreme Court Inquiry


    Mississippi River



    Rocky Mountains



    Additionally, these inquiry questions will be explored in upcoming inquiry based learning labs:

    1. *Native American religion: What was its relationship to the environment?

    2. Native Americans: What was the impact of European colonization on Native Americans?

    3. The lost colony of Roanoke: What are the theories to explain its disappearance?

    4. *Salem Witch Trials: What were the possible causes?

    5. Women in Colonial America: What was the role of women? Address the concept of the “republican mother” and its impact on the movement toward revolution.

    6. American Revolution: What were the key causes? What was the role of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense in promoting the movement for independence?

    7. American Revolution: What factors contributed to an American victory?

    8. The United States Constitution: How did it remedy the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation?

    9. The United States Constitution: Did the framers really represent the American people? (Aristocracy or Democracy?)

    10. Federalists vs. Anti-federalists: What were the main arguments prior to ratification of the Constitution? What was the outcome of the debate?

    11. *The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794: What were the causes and effects?

    12. Marbury v. Madison: What was the impact of this case on the American judicial system?

    13. Cotton gin: What was its impact on the American economy and the use of slaves labor on plantations in the South?

    14. *Utopian colonies: What were their goals and methods? Why did they fail? (e.g.: Amana colony, Brook Farm, Oneida colony, Bishop Hill)

    15. Indian Removal Act: What were the reasons for its passage? What was the impact of the Trail of Tears that resulted? 

    16. Mexican War: What were the causes and/or effects? Did the U.S. provoke the war? 

    17. Manifest Destiny: What were the causes of westward expansion? 

    18. Oregon Trail: Why was the motivation to move to the West so strong that people were willing to take enormous risks? 

    19. Mormons: Why did they encounter opposition in Illinois? What motivated their migration to Utah? What has been their impact on western development and American society? 

    20. Gold Rush: What was its impact on the development of California? 

    21. Slavery: What was its impact on the economy of the South? What were its effects on African American families? 

    22. Lincoln-Douglas debates: Compare and contrast the views of each regarding slavery and governmental power. What was the impact of the debates? 

    23. Abolitionist movement in the United States: Who were the key leaders, and what were their contributions? What was the impact on the tensions leading to the Civil War? 

    24. The Underground Railroad: What were the methods used? What was the impact? 

    25. Pre-Civil War conflicts over slavery: What were the causes and effects of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry? 

    26. Pre-Civil War conflicts over slavery: What were the causes and effects of the Nat Turner Rebellion? 

    27. Dred Scott decision: What was its impact on the slavery issue? 

    28. Civil War: What were the key issues that caused conflict between North and South? (Remember that there were many sectional differences in addition to slavery.) 

    29. Civil War: What were the strengths and weaknesses of the North and the South, and how did these factors contribute to the outcome of the war? (Especially focus on economic factors.) 

    30. Civil War: Why did Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation? How did it influence the decision of European nations not to recognize the Confederacy? 

    31. Women in the Civil War: How did they contribute? 

    32. African American soldiers in the Civil War: How did they contribute? What kind of discrimination did they face in the Union army? 

    33. Abraham Lincoln’s assassination: What did Booth and his co-conspirators hope to achieve? How did Lincoln’s assassination impact the reconstruction of the nation after the Civil War? *Was Mary Surratt actually a part of the conspiracy? 

    34. *African Americans after the Civil War: How were they affected by Reconstruction policies? How were they affected after the return of white supremacy? Discuss social, legal, and economic factors. 

    35. *New York draft riots during the Civil War: What were the causes? What were the effects? 

    36. Transcontinental railroad: What was its impact on westward expansion? 37. *Legend vs. reality in the West: Focus on myths and realities surrounding a particular figure (e.g.: Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp, George Custer, etc.) 

    38. Native American conflicts in the West: Specify tribe(s) and conflict. (e.g.: The Battle of the Little Bighorn, Wounded Knee Massacre, etc.); What were the causes and effects? 

    39. United States and Native American policy: What was the impact of the Dawes Act and/or other pieces of legislation? What was the impact of the reservation policy? 

    40. Electric power and related inventors: Analyze the impact of the harnessing of electric power and/or discuss the competition among the inventors who played a role (e.g.: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse) 

    41. Inventors/inventions of the 19th Century: Choose a significant inventor or invention and examine the challenges of developing the item or the impact of the invention on the American society/economy. 

    42. Wealthy industrialists in the late 1800s: “Robber Barons” or “Captains of Industry”? 

    43. The Gilded Age: Discuss the origin of the term and why it is an appropriate metaphor for the United States in the late 1800s. 

    44. Labor unions in the 1800s: What economic, social, and philosophical factors contributed to their formation? 

    45. Labor conflicts/strikes in the late 1800s: What was the federal governm

    ent’s attitude toward organized labor, and how and when did it change?

     46. Haymarket Riot: What were the causes and effects? 

    47. Pullman Strike: What were the causes and effects? 48. Immigration in the late 1800s: What were the difficulties faced by immigrants, and how did they adjust to life in America? 

    48. Immigration in the late 1800s: Discuss the “melting pot” vs. “salad bowl” metaphors.

     49. Chinese immigrants: Why did they come to the U.S.? What discrimination did they face? (Chinese Exclusion Act) 50. 

    The Great Chicago Fire of 1871: Why was it so severe? What was the impact on the city (especially architecture)? 

    51. Urban political machines in the late 1800s: What were the reasons for their development? Why were they successful? What is their legacy?

     52. The political cartoons of Thomas Nast: What was their influence on public opinion? How did they contribute to the downfall of Boss Tweed?

     53. Settlement house movement of the late 1800s: What prompted the development of the movement? What was its impact on urban neighborhoods? Specify area (e.g.: Chicago’s Hull House) 

    54. Child labor in the late 1800s/ early 1900s: What was the impact on society? How were reforms made? 

    55. Galveston hurricane of 1900: What were the effects on the city? How did city government change after the hurricane? 

    56. The San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906: What were the effects on the city, especially on the Chinese residents? 

    57. Muckrakers: What was the impact of this journalism on progressive reforms? 

    58. *The Springfield Race Riot of 1908: What were the causes and/or effects? 59. *Imperialism in the late 19thand early 20th Century: Was it justified? (Focus on one region.) 

    60. Yellow journalism: What was its role in causing the Spanish-American War? (Hearst and Pulitzer) 

    61. Spanish-American War: What were the causes and/or effects? 

    62. *The automobile: What was its impact on America’s economy and society? 

    63. World War I: What were the reasons for U.S. involvement? 

    64. *Anti-German sentiment in the United States during World War I: What policies were developed as a result? What was the impact on German-Americans? 

    65. Black Sox scandal: What caused the players to participate? Was “Shoeless Joe” Jackson part of the conspiracy? 

    66. *Women’s suffrage movement: Who were the founders and what methods did they use? What were their successes and/or failures? 

    67. Red Scare of the 1920s: What were the causes? What was the impact on immigrants and/or radicals? What was the role of A. Mitchell Palmer and/or J. Edgar Hoover? 

    68. Sacco-Vanzetti case: What role did discrimination play in the trial and verdict? 

    69. Prohibition: What were the causes? What was its impact on the development of organized crime? 

    70. *Harlem Renaissance: What were the causes? What were the effects? 

    71. Mississippi River Flood of 1927: How did it affect farmers? How did it impact racial issues in the South? What was the government response? 

    72. Stock market crash of 1929: What economic factors caused it? 

    73. *The Bonus Army: What prompted this protest? What was the outcome and impact? 

    74. Dust Bowl of the 1930s: What were the causes and/or effects? 

    75. *Scottsboro Trial: What was the impact of racism on the outcome? 76. *New Deal: What was its impact on the arts? What was its impact on farming? (Or choose another area) 

    77. Lindbergh kidnapping: Who kidnapped the Lindbergh baby? Was Bruno Hauptmann wrongfully convicted? 

    78. Amelia Earhart: What happened to Amelia Earhart? 

    79. Tuskegee Airmen: What obstacles did they face? How did they influence the struggle for African American rights? 

    80. Pearl Harbor: Could it have been predicted? Would the U.S. have entered World War II without it? 

    81. World War II: What was the impact of propaganda and its use in the United States?

    82. World War II: What was the significance of the Battle of Midway? 

    83. World War II: What were the reasons for the success of the D-Day invasion? 

    84. World War II: What contributions were made by Americans on the home front? 

    85. Japanese Internment: Why did it occur? How did it affect Japanese-Americans?

     86. World War II: What were the contributions of women? How did it affect women’s employment? 

    87. World War II: What were the contributions of African Americans? 

    88. Manhattan Project: What were the reasons for/methods of secrecy? 

    89. Bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki: Was it necessary? Argue one side.

     90. *Cold War: How and why did it originate? What were its effects on U.S. foreign policy? How have attitudes toward communism changed since it ended? 

    91. Truman’s containment policy: How was it implemented by the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and the Berlin Airlift? 

    92. *Korean War: What caused the No Gun Ri massacre, and why was it kept secret? 

    93. McCarthyism: What were its causes? What were its effects? 

    94. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg: Were they guilty of spying? 

    95. *Baby Boom: What was its impact on American society? (1950s-present) 96. Brown v. Board of Education case: What was its impact? 

    97. Blacks in Baseball: How did it affect/mirror the removal of other barriers for African Americans in society in general?

     98. U-2 incident: What was the effect on U.S.-Soviet relations? 

    99. JFK and the Cuban missile crisis: What were the reasons for the U.S. response? Evaluate the consequences of JFK’s actions. 

    100. JFK and the Bay of Pigs invasion: Why did the U.S. sponsor it? Why did it fail?

     101. JFK: Evaluate his presidency. Was he an effective president, or simply a nostalgic hero? 

    102. JFK’s assassination: Who was responsible? Were the Warren commission’s findings accurate?

     103. Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s: Evaluate the tactics and accomplishments.

     104. March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom of 1963: What was its impact? 

    105. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination: Was James Earl Ray responsible? 

    106. *Social protest in the 1960s: What forms did it take? What was its impact on American society?

     107. *Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society: What were its successes? What were its failures? What was the impact of this program on the creation of a welfare system in the United States?

     108. Vietnam War: How did the U.S. get involved? 

    109. My Lai Massacre: What were the causes? Who was responsible?

    110. *Vietnam War: What was the role of the anti-war movement in changing American opinions toward the war? How was public policy influenced? (Or, What was the role of the media?) 

    111. Kent State shootings: What were the contributing factors? Who was responsible? 

    112. *Vietnam War: Why did the United States lose? Evaluate goals, policies, decisions, and/or the role of geography and the nature of guerrilla warfare to analyze the failure.

     113. Vietnam War: What were the social consequences? Analyze the treatment of veterans returning from the war.

     114. Agent Orange: Evaluate its use during the Vietnam War and its effects. 115. 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago: What were the reasons for the protests, and why did violence erupt? Evaluate the city’s response and the impact on public opinion. 

    116. American Indian Movement (AIM) and the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee: What motivated the takeover? What was its impact on relations between Native Americans and the government? 

    117. *Watts riot: What were the causes? What were the effects on race relations in America? 

    118. Iran Hostage situation (1979): What were the causes? Evaluate President Carter’s handling of the situation. 

    119. Iran-Contra scandal: Who was really responsible?

     120. *Affirmative action in education or the workplace: Is it still necessary? Why or why not? Be sure to focus the historical implications. 

    121. *African Americans in the military: What significant contributions did they make? How have they overcome discrimination? 

    122. *Women in the military: What significant contributions did they make? How have they overcome discrimination? Should women serve in combat positions?

     123. *Women’s rights: How have changes in women’s employment affected their role in society? Focus on one time period. Oklahoma City Bombing: What motivated Timothy McVeigh to plan and carry out the attack? 

    124. *Sept. 11, 2001 attacks: How did the attacks affect American security policies? How did they impact U.S. foreign policy? How did they impact American views of Islam? Other narrow topics may be approved—see your teachers. 

    125. Hurricane Katrina (2005): What caused the flooding in New Orleans to be so severe? What was the impact of the government’s response? How has the city/region changed since then? What was the political impact? 

    126. Key people in American history: chose an individual (i.e.: a President, First Lady, leader of a movement, etc.) and discuss that person’s impact on the United States. Get help formulating your thesis so that you do not simply write a report.

    Total Pages
    80 pages
    Answer Key
    Teaching Duration
    2 days
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