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Inquiry-Based Elementary Social Studies and the Common Core

Updated: Feb 12, 2019

inquirED uses the Common Core State Standards for ELA/Literacy as supporting standards for all Inquiry Units. In addition, the Inquiry Product series contains more than a dozen literacy-based products, each with its own set of specialized lesson plans that target CCSS-ELA Standards.

The information below gives specific examples from our 3rd-5th Grade Origins of the United States curriculum of how Inquiry Journeys meets the Common Core Literacy indicators.

Increase in Text Complexity: Promotes the reading of complex texts drawn from the grade-level band in order to deepen understanding of big ideas in social studies

  • Students consider the question, ”Who, or what, gives the government power over its citizens?” and explore the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution. They will compare and contrast the first and final drafts of the Preamble to form ideas about what the framers wanted to convey while building an understanding of the Preamble’s language.


Academic Vocabulary: Promotes an emphasis on building academic vocabulary through a social studies content lens.

  • Students explore the origins of the Bill of Rights and meaning of the Amendments. Students use a Concentric Circles discussion protocol to reflect on learning and connect to their classroom Rights and Responsibilities.

Focus on Disciplinary Literacy: Promotes the building of knowledge through primary and secondary text.

  • Students participate in a jigsaw activity after reading articles about the three branches of the US government. They consider how the branches interact and maintain a system of checks and balances.

Evaluating Sources and Using Evidence: Promotes drawing evidence from texts to demonstrate clear and coherent writing, speaking, and listening skills that encourage construction and evaluation of arguments and the development of informed action.

  • Students investigate the history of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment in order to better understand the process of amending the Constitution. They begin by pre-reading the article “The Equal Rights Amendment That Almost Was” in a whole-class, fact-finding close reading.

Writing from Sources: Promotes writing that emphasizes the use of evidence from sources to inform or make an argument. Promotes student-constructed written responses which are text-dependent.

  • Using the lens of the school rules, students consider the question “What Rules Matter Most?” and take a stand by making a persuasive ad to promote their point of view, using evidence from the Unit to support their claims.