All Investigations

Overview

This website features the investigation Slavery and Reconstruction (scroll down to learn more).  Two other investigations, Industrial Revolution and Greek & Persian Wars, will be available soon.  The website can expand to accommodate any number of future investigations in History / Social Studies and other subject matters.

The investigations are designed to support critical exploration in the classroom. Each investigation originates in collaboration with a teacher and is centered on a topic many are required to teach. We assist collaborating teachers in their classrooms, working directly with students, so that the emerging curricula are informed by students’ interactions with the materials.

Each investigation includes nine subtopics. Each subtopic can fill one or more class sessions. You can browse through all nine as they appear, or you can consider teaching a smaller number or approaching them in a different order. On each subtopic page, in addition to a selection of primary sources, you will find detailed Questions and Activities, Student Responses, Teacher Narrative, and Additional Resources sections.

We hope teachers will take these materials, questions, and activities, try them out, adapt them for their own students, and discuss their experiences with others who care about teaching and learning. We hope each investigation will grow as more teachers experiment with the materials and activities and share their observations and ideas.

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Teaching and Learning Through Critical Exploration

“First, we aim to put the learners in direct contact with the subject matter  …  a poem, or historical documents, or an arithmetic problem, or some writing that needs punctuating. Second … we find that when we are interested in the learners’ thoughts, the learners take a deepening interest in their own thoughts, too.  We find that we focus on the learners’ thoughts rather than on our own, as the engine for what generates the intellectual life of the classroom. In part this is because the learners think better that way; and in part because it is by paying attention to what they are thinking and doing that we as teachers can see how next to call on our knowledge of the subject matter—what resources to provide, what next questions to ask.  These two aspects of how we use our knowledge make for a powerful way to help people learn: depend on carefully selected aspects of the subject matter, and listen carefully to the learners’ ideas about them.”

Eleanor Duckworth, “Helping Students Get to Where Ideas Can Find Them,” The New Educator 5 : 3 (2009), pp. 185-188.

For practical suggestions for listening to students’ ideas, click View More.

“First, we aim to put the learners in direct contact with the subject matter  …  a poem, or historical documents, or an arithmetic problem, or some writing that needs punctuating. Second … we find that when we are interested in the learners’ thoughts, the learners take a deepening interest in their own thoughts, too.  We find that we focus on the learners’ thoughts rather than on our own, as the engine for what generates the intellectual life of the classroom. In part this is because the learners think better that way; and in part because it is by paying attention to what they are thinking and doing that we as teachers can see how next to call on our knowledge of the subject matter—what resources to provide, what next questions to ask.  These two aspects of how we use our knowledge make for a powerful way to help people learn: depend on carefully selected aspects of the subject matter, and listen carefully to the learners’ ideas about them.”

Eleanor Duckworth, “Helping Students Get to Where Ideas Can Find Them,” The New Educator 5 : 3 (2009), pp. 185-188.

For practical suggestions for listening to students’ ideas, click View More.

Industrial Revolution

History / Social Studies

Industrial Revolution

This investigation was developed in a fifth- and sixth-grade classroom.  Teacher resources will be available online soon.

Explore Industrial Revolution topics»

Slavery & Reconstruction

History / Social Studies

Slavery & Reconstruction

Explore Reconstruction, as well as its preludes and aftermath, through paintings, diaries and letters, editorial cartoons, maps, photographs, military and government documents, and handwritten labor contracts signed by ex-slaves.

These materials challenge students to…

  • compare and contrast the experiences of blacks and whites before and after the Civil War
  • trace the inconsistent pace and directions of change
  • question their own assumptions about the obstacles and opportunities freedmen encountered and created
  • build rich context for the 13th, 14th, and 15th constitutional amendments
  • confront both the hope and promise of Reconstruction and its complicated reality and legacy.
Explore Slavery & Reconstruction topics»

Greek & Persian Wars

History / Social Studies

Greek & Persian Wars

This investigation was developed in seventh-grade classrooms.  Teacher resources will be available soon.

Explore Greek & Persian Wars topics»