Nurturing Curiosity in Middle School Students Through Inquiry

TCI’s updated interactive middle school social studies curriculum will include new features to nurture student curiosity. In addition to video-based Geography Challenges, the History Alive! programs will include unit-based inquiry projects that allow students to explore compelling questions about social studies, as well as construct evidence-based arguments and take informed action.

Unit Inquiry Projects in History Alive!

At the beginning of a unit, students are introduced to thought-provoking questions like “How much are we able to know about the first human civilizations?” They are asked to conduct thought experiments such as choosing an object near them and imagining how people 1000 years in the future would interpret how civilizations today lived.

Based on the C3 inquiry arc, teachers can expect students to define compelling and supporting questions, conduct research, evaluate sources, construct evidence-based arguments, and create a plan for taking informed action.

Inquiry Project Types

Throughout the units, students will find four types of inquiry: Structured, Guided, Embedded Action, and Student-Directed. Each type of Inquiry Project provides a different level of guidance—from structured to open for students who want to pursue their own historical questions.

  • Structured Inquiry. Structured Inquiry projects provide students with a question and guide them through answering it. Through the investigative process, students develop an explanation and argument to respond to the question. For example, in one of the Structured Inquiry Projects in the new History Alive! The Ancient World, students explore the question “How much are we able to know about the first human civilizations?” and follow the steps to create a video advertisement that explains why it is important to protect artifacts.
  • Guided Inquiry. In Guided Inquiry projects, students are given a question to dig into. They devise their own method for answering it. Students are still expected to use evidence to construct an argument. In a Guided Inquiry, students are given the question “How does geography influence culture?” and share their findings in a digital presentation.
  • Embedded Action. The Embedded Inquiry projects ask students to take informed action as a result of their investigation. For example, students are asked the question “How can people make a change for the better?” and research three ways life is better now than in the past. They apply their findings to create an informed plan to make a change in their community for the better.
  • Student-Directed. Student-directed inquiries are the most open-ended of the project types in History Alive! The student-directed inquiries use the same framework as the other types but are more open-ended so that students define their own compelling and supporting questions, methods for investigation, and performance tasks.

These approaches for inquiry are based on the C3 inquiry arc and provide different levels of guidance to support students as they drive their inquiry projects.

In addition to the unit Inquiry Projects, there are many opportunities to nurture student curiosity in TCI’s middle school social studies programs. From investigating primary sources to exploring multiple perspectives, the program’s rich resources will keep students asking questions and looking for answers.

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