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An inquirED Blog

Together When Apart: "Essential Workers" Learning Extensions

inquirED Inquiry Based Social Studies Distance Learning

During this week’s inquiry, students examine how essential workers and helpers support communities. You can always ask students to dig deeper into the inquiry, encouraging them to ask questions, make inferences, and take additional actions. Try the extensions below!


Reading/ELA Extensions


Source: Stories about community helpers

Task: Prompt students to explore the video read-alouds on Epic! Ask them:

  • Can you identify the community helpers in these stories?

  • What makes their work important?


Task: Prompt students to explore the Newsela article. Challenge them to:

  • Write a persuasive essay about someone who is considered "non-essential" and express the various reasons that they are essential to you. Some ideas may include a librarian, musician, coach, craft store owner, or scout leader. Include details about what this person means to you and how they fulfill an important need or want for you or your community.




Source: Data collected from people in a student’s household

Task: Prompt students to survey people in their life to see which community helper or essential worker comes to their mind first. Challenge them to represent this information in a graph or chart.




Task: Prompt students to read the Newsela article. Ask: How is technology helping our nurses and doctors?


Social Studies


Task: Prompt students to pick a favorite department and find out more about it.


Source: Community Helpers Then and Now book by Bobbie Kalman on Epic!

Task: Invite students to explore this book to learn about how the roles of community helpers have changed over time. Ask:

  • What similarities do you notice?

  • What differences do you notice?


Source: Map of student’s local community

Task: Challenge students to fill in a map of their community (or create a fictional one) and identify where all the essential workers are helping.

Source: Information about essential workers and activists throughout history

Task: Challenge students to read about and research well-known essential workers and activists. Ask:

  • What essential work did this person perform?

  • What would happen if this person did not do their job?

  • How would you show gratitude for this person’s work?


Source: Information about industrialization and the changes it brought to society

Task: Challenge students to investigate the sources about industrialization. Ask:

  • What changes did industrialization bring about?

  • How did industrialization increase the need for certain types of essential workers?


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