The Chicken and Egg

Don't students need to become more self-reliant? But at the same time, don't teachers need to develop a learner-centered strategy to be able to guide their students to make this changes?

We design processes and tools for the classroom as well as expanded (soft) learning time to help schools make this cultural shift - to project based learning.

Our process includes teacher professional development workshops as well as dynamic coaching. Afterschool (soft learning) programming allows for student focused, peer-to-peer learning. 

Inquiring Minds is an innovative, inquiry-based organization led by educators and designers who bring a civics-centered educational process to grades pre K-12 in New York City schools. We believe, as we’re sure you do, that all kids are citizens of the world. And school is where they can develop cooperative and respectful mindsets and skillsets.

Aren’t your students the most valuable resource in your school? 

Let us help you with that.

We’ve included snapshots for 3 different processes:

Learning Walls

Interactive integrated visual approach to inquiry units for all elementary grade levels.


Upper elementary student led program for all elementary grade level interventions.

Kids’ Council

Upper elementary student led program that works to improve aspects of the school identified by the students themselves. Kids' Council can combine both Peacekeepers and Learning Walls in its programming.

In our talks with some exceptional elementary public and private school teachers we have been graciously welcomed into classrooms to help meet the challenges they and their students face firsthand. It's this extended access that has allowed us to innovate to help kids become critical thinkers and doers, cooperators, iterative strategists equipped with the skills they need to succeed.

"What does self reliance mean?"  we asked.

David, 5th grader, replied, “Relying on yourself – to pull yourself forward. I say that all the time to myself.”

Motivated students become helpful problem seekers and solvers and can improve the school’s learning environment, profile and safety.

A big goal for our public schools is to make the switch to learner-centered culture. Isn’t that easier said than done? The rewards are great! Inquiring Minds USA has developed processes to improve student engagement that provides, simultaneously, professional development for teachers and avenues for students to exercise their agency. In the process students develop a sense of agency, autonomy and civic engagement.


We also worked with the team who developed C3 Framework (which is being adapted in many state standards including New York State through Engage NY). The centerpiece of inquiry is the Inquiry Arc. With our focus on developing disciplined civic engagement, the arc has become one of our best tools.

The 4 main disciplines of the arc equip students to become actively engaged in their nation:

1. "Developing questions and planning inquiries"

Encourages students to ask main and supporting questions about historical events and concepts learned in class lessons. Teachers also play a role by supporting and encouraging their students’ development of ideas.

2. "Evaluating sources and using evidence"

Asks students to research in a variety of forms and then develop their claims or understand the claims of others.

3. "Applying disciplinary concepts and tools"

Values the importance of what content the teachers decide to present the students. In this main idea, “Disciplinary” refers to a subject such as civics, economics, geography, or history. A student may examine one or all of these subjects in order to gather evidence to share their question and/or answer in class.

4. "Communicating conclusions and taking informed action"

We examine the process by which students compile their findings and share them with others. The demonstration of knowledge is in the presentation. This could mean creating a portfolio, such as a video or an essay. Since Inquiring Minds is design focused, the arc is part of our design process.

In respect to the social studies state standards, The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework encourages critical thinking for K-12 students. Inquiring Minds designed the visual format for this framework which prepares students to be active citizens by offering a level-by-level structure showing how a student at every grade-level can act thoughtfully in a democratic environment that continues to develop culturally and physically. 

The C3 Framework document also offers an overview of their English Language Arts/Literacy Common Core Connections. As noted in the ELA/ Literacy Common Core Standards, students who are college and career ready can independently ‘construct effective arguments and convey intricate or multifaceted information' and ‘use relevant evidence’ when making arguments.

Where did the C3 Framework come from?

"The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards was conceptualized by individual state leaders in social studies education and supported by fifteen professional organizations representing four core social studies content areas: civics, economics, geography, and history. The C3 Framework was written by experts in the academic disciplines and social studies education in collaboration with classroom teachers, state social studies education leaders, and representatives of professional organizations.    

Work on the C3 Framework began in 2010 with the development of an initial conceptual guidance document written by individuals from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Social Studies Assessment, Curriculum, and Instruction state collaborative and by representatives from the professional associations. The framework writers were selected in consultation with the participating professional associations. Feedback was solicited throughout the process from stakeholders, including invitational reviews with professional organizations, teachers, and critical friends."

(from page 7 of Social Studies for the Next Generation: Purposes, Practices, and Implications of the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards)


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