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Tips for Distance Learning with Inquiry Journeys

Updated: Aug 21, 2020




inquirED Inquiry Journeys Elementary Social Studies Curriculum

Welcome! Just as inquirED's Inquiry Journeys lessons are delivered to you online with meaningful questions, tasks, and sources, these same elements can be adapted and printed for home use or delivered through an online learning platform.

Below you will find general ideas and suggested accommodations for implementing Inquiry Journeys during times of distance learning. Of course, not every suggestion will be right for every school! We trust you to select the strategies and practices that make sense within your context.

General Considerations for Distance Learning


Never fear! Inquiry Journeys can be done in a distance learning model. It will take some creativity and customization, but this moment, more than ever, is a time to embrace inquiry-based social studies. Social studies helps students understand their world — and inquiry engages students and gives them the tools they need to question, investigate, and make an impact on the world.


Inquiry Journeys uses the Inquiry Process in all its units — and the modules of a unit (Launch, Investigation, and Action) can be implemented in distance learning models. Certain adaptations and considerations apply to the unique features of each module.


The Launch Module

The Launch Module is made up of two lessons. These lessons hook students into the inquiry, introduce the Inquiry Question, and help students generate questions to guide their exploration.

  • Hook Lesson: Reserve synchronous time for the Hook Lesson. This is your chance to introduce the Inquiry Question and build excitement for the entire unit. You will need to be creative and tweak, but you shouldn’t need to reinvent or imagine a brand new lesson.

  • Generating Investigation Questions: In this lesson students are introduced to a modified version of the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) to generate Investigation Questions that will guide their exploration during the unit. The Right Question Institute, the organization that developed the QFT, has shared options for facilitating the QFT in a distance learning model. Visit RQI for virtual QFT options.


Investigation Modules

Each of the four Investigation Modules in a unit is framed by a unique Essential Question and contains lessons that guide students through the investigation of a specific topic related to the inquiry. When adapting Investigation Modules:

  • Review Module Description, Objectives and Checkpoint Assessment

  • Explore the central learning of the module.

  • Prioritize content

  • Core lessons are those lessons in a module that are sufficient to address the module objectives and content standards.

  • Extension lessons provide deeper dives or additional scaffolding.

  • Read through the lessons to prioritize the content you will address. You might select entire lessons, or portions of lessons, to adapt.

  • Adapt lesson content for your unique context. Consider:

  • What activities need to be tweaked?

  • What learning experiences will be most valuable in a synchronous setting?

  • What will provide clarity and reduce barriers for students?

  • What will promotes collaboration and builds community?

  • What is fun/inspirational and will draw students into their learning & make kids want to come to remote-school

  • What connects to district’s priorities for synchronous instruction (ELA, SEL)


Action Module

During the Action Module, students take Informed Action, shifting the focus of their work to planning and implementing an action that impacts their world. As part of this process, they create an Inquiry Product that supports their action, then share their efforts with a public audience. When adapting the action module for distance learning:

  • Keep in mind equitable access to materials.

  • Students will have different materials available to the. Keep it simple. You don't want to set up a barrier to students engaging in the work.

  • Leverage the tools that kids are familiar with using and be open to tools students are excited about.

  • Obviously, digital tools are most readily available in a distance learning model. Explore and make use of them! Keep in mind, though, that each new tool comes with a learning curve, so it might be best to stick with those students know how to use.



Sample Schedules

In the Partner Webinar (see recording below) we talk through each of the following schedules: