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An inquirED Blog

Inquiry Unit Design

Updated: Nov 10


inquiry unit design

What’s your personal inquiry? Do you want to visit every country in the world? Are you looking to master the art of French cooking—or just searching for the perfect slice of pizza? What about your professional inquiries? Are you trying to improve your teaching practice? Have a greater impact on student learning? Whether personal or professional, the inquiries we explore challenge us, make our lives more meaningful, and give us a sense of purpose.


And isn’t that the future that we want for our students as well: lives full of meaningful inquiries? If that’s the case, then let’s engage students in authentic, meaningful inquiries right now in our classrooms. In this guide, we're going to help you get started designing an inquiry unit for your classroom!


Table of Contents:


What is Inquiry?

Crafting the Inquiry Question

Developing Essential Questions

Gathering Sources for Units

Designing Inquiry-Based Lessons

Taking Informed Action

More Resources


Inquiry Process

What is Inquiry?


Inquiry is a process - one that’s hardwired into our brains. It’s activated whenever we seek to solve a problem or respond to a challenge. The inquiry process launches when we ask a question that sparks our curiosity. We then move through a sustained investigation to build knowledge and test our ideas. Finally, we use that learning to take informed action that impacts the world.


Let's look at how to embed the inquiry process in the structure of your unit, first by developing Essential Questions, and next by crafting an Inquiry Question, or what the C3 Framework calls a "compelling question".


Crafting The Inquiry Question


An Inquiry Question is a complex, open-ended question that frames the learning of a unit. Inquiry Questions should:

  • Be compelling and open-ended, igniting student curiosity and driving them forward into their investigation

  • Be formulated simply so students can understand and share