top of page

An inquirED Blog

Media Literacy: Primary and Secondary Sources in Inquiry Journeys

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

Media literacy in elementary social studies

Download our classroom sources poster and then read about how inquirED integrates engaging sources into Inquiry Journeys!


How are sources used in Inquiry Journeys?

Inquiry Journeys diverse, integrated sources

Inquiry Journeys includes thousands of engaging primary and secondary sources. These sources represent multiple perspectives from diverse authors and creators across a varied range of media types, including maps, documents, photographs, websites, videos, paintings, personal narratives, and more.

Each source is embedded in an inquiry-based lesson plan that challenges students to use social studies disciplinary skills to gather evidence in response to an essential question. Lesson plans are structured into the following three stages:

  • Opening: During the Opening of an inquiry lesson, teachers spark student curiosity and connect the lesson to the Essential Question of the module and the larger inquiry. Sources here are often photographs, videos, read-alouds, or engaging texts that help to activate prior knowledge, wonderings, and questions.

  • Active Inquiry: During the Active Inquiry students engage in an inquiry-based learning task, which involves the exploration and investigation of a specific source. For learning tasks to be inquiry-based, they should give students the opportunity to lead their own learning as they question, investigate, and take action.

  • Closing: During the Closing, students reflect upon their learning; teachers take the opportunity to check for understanding.

How do students build their media literacy skills with diverse sources?

When students question, analyze, and evaluate diverse and varied sources, they are practicing the disciplinary skills of a historian and building deep social studies content knowledge. Students then use this knowledge to come to conclusions based on the evidence they have gathered. Sources also support students in building essential media literacy skills, allowing them to distinguish between fact and opinion, truth and misinformation, and objectivity and bias.

Who makes up our source selection team?

inquirED's Instructional Media Librarians partner with our Learning Experience Curriculum Designers to select and curate sources. Librarians and curriculum designers are in continuous collaboration as units are outlined, lessons are proposed, and resources are created. Librarians recommend sources that are relevant and meet the criteria outlined in Figure 1.1. In addition, librarians work with external inquirED partners – a network of scholars, subject matter specialists, and educators – to gather and create content aligned to curriculum standards.

How do we select high-quality sources for Inquiry Journeys?

inquirED chooses sources for Inquiry Journeys through multiple prototyping, feedback, and revision cycles. During each cycle, we evaluate the sources used in each lesson for quality according to the criteria included in Figure 1.1 below.

inquirED criteria for Source Selectio
Figure 1.1: Criteria for Source Selection


About inquirED

inquirED was founded by teachers with the mission of bringing inquiry-based social studies to every classroom. Inquiry Journeys, inquirED’s elementary social studies curriculum, is used in schools and districts across the country to help students develop deep social studies content knowledge and build the inquiry skills that are essential for a thriving democracy.


bottom of page