Inquiry Skills:

One of the responsibilities of an educator is to teach students how to develop excellent inquiry skills. The foundation laid by educators for developing excellent inquiry skills is extremely important since these skills continue to develop over the course of a lifetime. Daniel Callison emphasis this point when he states in The Blue Book that “a sequential structure matched to the normal skill development of the learner is assumed to increase the chances that the student will build his or her learning at the time of being able to understand meaning and application.”

Listening and viewing skills are but one of the skills that develop over the course of time for students to go from novice to expert. According to Callison, during the elementary years the students will develop attentiveness to the sights and sounds of storytelling, will learn to participate in discussion, and develop means for recalling, summarizing and paraphrasing what they have heard or viewed. During the middle school years the students will build on their previous knowledge to incorporate interpreting what they have seen or heard. They will also further develop skills for recalling, summarizing, and paraphrasing what they have heard or viewed to extend their knowledge. During the high school years the students will further build on their previous knowledge for listening and viewing skills to incorporate deriving key information from evidence in interviews and provide critical examinations of what they have viewed/heard. They will also develop interpretive skills for all media forms such as maps, charts, illustrations, and other visuals such as video.

Listening and viewing skills are present in
teaching standards across grade levels, but for our purposes I will focus on those standards that deal with third and seventh graders.

Standards that incorporate listening and viewing skills for third grade social studies:

3.1.7 Chronological Thinking, Historical Comprehension, Analysis and Interpretation, Research: Distinguish between fact and fiction in historical accounts by comparing documentary sources on historical figures and events with fictional characters and events in stories.

Standard 3.1.7 reflects listening and viewing skills through analysis and interpretation between fact and fiction in historical figures. Many firsthand accounts, oral histories, and primary documents are available online for students to access for comparison, analysis, and interpretation.

Standards that incorporate listening and viewing skills for seventh grade social studies:

7.1.21 Chronological Thinking, Historical Comprehension, Analysis and Interpretation, Research: Analyze cause-and-effect relationships, bearing in mind multiple causation in the role of individuals, beliefs and chance in history.

7.1.22 Chronological Thinking, Historical Comprehension, Analysis and Interpretation, Research: Distinguish between unsupported expressions of opinion and informed hypotheses grounded in historical evidence.

Standards 7.1.21 and 7.1.22 reflects listening and viewing skills by leaving a lot of room for interpretation. Standard 7.1.21 provides for the analysis of cause-and-effect, while standard 7.1.22 provides for distinguishing between unsupported opinion and informed hypotheses grounded in historical evidence. Again, there are plenty of firsthand accounts, historical videos (especially through the History Channel and PBS) which would allow the teacher to incorporate various forms of listening and viewing materials into the classroom.

I must admit, though, that I am disappointed that the standards for social studies seem to be lacking in incorporating Listening and viewing skills into the standards. I found a few standards that do incorporate timelines and/or a map, but nothing that specifically incorporates video, audio, oral accounts, or even primary documents. I am not a teacher and this may be where it shows the most that I have no formal training in education. Perhaps it is simply understood that these materials and Medias should be incorporated.


I have developed two lesson plans for social studies with regard to the American Revolution that place emphasis on listening and viewing skills as laid out in Daniel Callison in The Blue Book. The first lesson plan is for a third grade class that will listen to two versus of a poem, read a firsthand account, and evaluate a picture of the Boston Tea Party. The second lesson plan is for a seventh grade social studies class that will watch video about Thomas Jefferson, evaluate primary sources including (both in text and in original format), read edited drafts of documents and letters from key players in the writing of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the U.S., and the Bill of Rights.

Lesson Plans:

Lesson Plan for Third Graders:

Subject(s) Covered:

Social Studies
Language Arts/Literature


50 minutes


· Students will be able to respond to literal, inferential, and evaluative questions about literature and orally presented materials
· Students will be able to draw meaning from words based of how it is used in an orally presented sentence
· Students will be able to write a good reflection about a topic in one paragraph


Students will have already been studying the events, acts, and taxes that led up to the Boston Tea Party. They will also have read the chapter about the Boston Tea Party from their textbook. In this lesson the teacher will read two versus of a poem about the Boston Tea Party. Students will read a firsthand account and evaluate a historical image of the Boston Tea Party. At the end of the lesson the students will write one paragraph about the events that led up to the Boston Tea Party from either the British or colonial perspective as assigned by the teacher. (Note: The teacher will assign or draw names to decide which perspective the students will write about. This will be important for the future lesson on the Declaration of Independence and discussing “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”)


Pour some English tea (hot or cold) for each of the students to drink. While the students drink their tea have them recall some of the past acts, taxes, and events that led up to the Boston Tea Party. Ask the students where the tea came from that the colonist drank. Once they know that it came from England, explain that tea was one of the items heavily taxed.


Distribute a copy of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem Boston. Read allowed the following two versus of the poem:

Bad news from George on the English throne:
"You are thriving well," said he;
"Now by these presents be it known,
You shall pay us a tax on tea;
'Tis very small,--no load at all,--
Honor enough that we send the call."

"Not so," said Boston, "good my lord,
We pay your governors here
Abundant for their bed and board,
Six thousand pounds a year.
(Your highness knows our homely word,)
Millions for self-government,

But for tribute never a cent."

Lead a discussion on the poem and discuss how it demonstrates how King George and the colonist felt about taxes. Tie in the reading from the textbook and the acts, taxes, and events that have been discussed up to this point.

Distribute a copy of
George Hewes firsthand account of the Boston Tea Party. Allow the students’ time to read the account. Lead a discussion on what the students noticed as significant. What are the similarities between Emerson’s poem and Hewes account? (Mention Governor Hutchinson from Hewes account and the line “we pay your governors here” from Emerson’s poem.)

Distribute a copy of a picture of the
Boston Tea Party. Allow the students’ time to evaluate the picture. Lead a discussion on what the students noticed as significant and/or similarities and differences between the image and Hewes account. (Examples to point out if needed include 3 ships mentioned in Hewes account and two shown in the image, Hewes describe how they dressed as Native Americans and the image shown shows them dressed in Native American clothing, etc.)
Break the class in to two groups. One group will represent the colonists; the other will represent the British monarch. Allow the students 10 minutes to write a paragraph about the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party and their feelings about the events as either a colonist or King George. Explain to the students that they need to write about how the events would make them feel if they were King George or a colonist. (Provide examples: tea tax is unfair, the colonists are being unruly, etc.) Encourage them to write at least one question they may have about the topic. (Note: The teacher will assign or draw names to decide which perspective the students will write about. This will be important for the future lesson on the Declaration of Independence and discussing “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”) After they have written their paragraph, discuss with the students how they felt about being given no choice as to which perspective they wrote from. Begin the next class session with a few of the questions presented from both perspectives. (This will be the introduction to the lesson on the Declaration of Independence and the complaints of the colonist.)

Teacher Materials:

· Hot or Cold tea and cups
· Paper
· Pencils
· Poem Boston by Ralph Waldo Emerson
· Firsthand account of George Hewes
· Picture of Boston Tea Party

Student Materials:

Boston Tea Party Worksheet

Lesson Plan for Seventh Graders:

Subject(s) Covered:

Social Studies


The First and Second Continental Congress faced many challenges in creating the United States of America. What were some of these challenges? Who would be in charge? How would government run? These are but a few of the challenges faced by members of the Congress.

Help your students to better understand the American Revolution by exploring some of these challenges in creating the United States of America. Give your students the opportunity to understand the documents that created this country by engaging them in activities that will make the process more meaningful.

Guiding Question(s):

What were the circumstances for the First Continental Congress for creating the Declaration of Independence? What were the circumstances for creating the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

Learning Objectives:

Recounting the circumstances leading up to and during the Continental Congresses
· Understanding what circumstances were most influential in the decisions made by our forefathers
· List the significant documents created by our forefathers and the Continental Congresses and their significance
· List differences in challenges between the Continental Congresses
· Students will be able to identify the key players of the Continental Congresses and the roles they played
Preparing to Teach this Lesson:

· Review the lesson plan. Locate and bookmark suggested materials and other useful websites. Download and print out selected documents and duplicate copies as necessary for student viewing.
· Determine any software additions/updates you will need to make to student or classroom computer(s).

Suggested Activity:

Ask the students to recall what they know about the events and circumstances leading up to and during the Revolution. Keep a class list of these facts on the chalkboard or elsewhere. (Provide examples such as the Sugar Act of 1764) Review the timeline of the American Revolution. Have the students identify events that led to the writing of the Declaration of Independence that were not mentioned in the video or on their list.

As a class:

Watch the video about Thomas Jefferson and the writing of the Declaration of Independence (running time 3.44). Ask students to identify any facts about Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence they heard from the video that they did not previously know, and add these new facts to the class list on the chalkboard or elsewhere.
Review the documents from the First Continental Congress Meeting. Have the students identify similarities and differences between this document and what they learned from the video and add these new facts to the class list on the chalkboard.

Review the list from the chalkboard and discuss similarities, differences, and patterns. Do they help answer the question, "
What were the circumstances surrounding the First Continental Congress for creating the Declaration of Independence?" Or, do they add to the confusion?

2. Break the class into groups’ three groups. Assign each group one of the following historical documents to research and review: Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights. Be sure to point out some of the interesting documents available such as a copy of the U.S. Constitution with marginal notes by George Washington. Allow the student’s time to explore the various original documents and transcripts associated with each of their assigned document. Have each group write down questions that they have about the documents they review. Let them know that it is okay if their questions cannot be answered at this time.

As a class:
The students should have already read all three documents prior to this class session. Pass out a copy of the text version of all three documents to every student for comparisons. Begin discussing all three documents. Ask guiding questions: “What complaints or concerns seem most important?”, “What challenges were most important to overcome?”, “Who signed their documents; are there any overlaps?”, “What are some of the documents you discovered that you found interesting?”, “What new discoveries did you make?” (allow each group a chance to discuss some of the questions they asked).

Assignment: Have the students write a one page reflection of their discoveries with the founding documents. Students will present their reflections to the class for further discussion. Encourage them to ask further questions in their reflections. Let them know that it is okay to ask questions that they may not be able to answer. Guide them with questions such as: “If you were a member of the First Continental Congress, what additions/deletions would you make to the Declaration of Independence?” and/or “If you lived during the American Revolution, would you want the responsibility of creating the founding documents? Why/Why not? What role would you want to play?” This reflection will be used for a larger homework assignment that will allow the students to do more independent research to answer some of their questions.

Teacher Materials:
This timeline covers from 1660-2005. Focus on the time period of 1756-1776 and 1777-1815 for this lesson.
First Continental Congress Meeting:
Provides a quick summary of the First Continental Congress meeting. Also provides additional links for the American Revolution.
Historical Documents:
Provides primary documents in American history from the Library of Congress, including the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Constitution.
George Washington:
One example of the types of documents available from the Library of Congress. The document is a copy of the U.S. Constitution with edited notes by George Washington, dated September 12, 1787.
Thomas Jefferson:
Video about Thomas Jefferson and the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. Approximate running time 3.44
Sugar Act of 1764
Provides a brief description of the Sugar Act of 1764 and the cause and effects of it.
Additional Web Resources:

Student Materials:

Have students use this worksheet as they work together in groups and during class discussion:

Lesson Comparison:


Carol Tilley discusses in her article “Cognitive Apprenticeship” in Daniel Callison’s The Blue Book, that “modeling is the process of demonstrating behavior in order to provide a model for imitation and learning.” The lesson plans I’ve developed for both the third and seventh grade class promote teacher modeling for the students to observe. In both lesson plans this is accomplished by providing examples at the beginning of different tasks and discussions to demonstrate to the student how to make these connections.


Scaffolding is also accomplished in both lesson plans. For the third grade lesson plan, students will evaluate a poem, then add an evaluation of a firsthand account and make comparisons. They will then evaluate an image and make further comparisons. In the seventh grade lesson plan, scaffolding is accomplished by first recalling materials from previous lessons and creating a list of that information, then evaluating a video on Thomas Jefferson and adding to the list new information. Students then evaluate primary documents and add new knowledge to the list and make comparisons to the video and previous materials. The process continues building until the lesson is complete.

Differences in Maturation:

The developmental stage and level of maturation of the students will vary from one grade level to the next, as well as in the individual student. Maturation in elementary age students is going to be very basic. Once basic principles such as learning colors, numbers, letters, etc. have been established, students are ready to begin to incorporate maturation on a broader scale.

By the third grade the students are ready to begin taking a bigger part in maturation process. In my lesson plan for third graders, the level of maturation is still very basic and introductory. However, the lesson plan that I developed introduce some of the elements that are involved in maturation within students. For example, third graders will not be able to identify many of the classics, but by introducing a couple of versus from Emerson’s poem Boston the student is learning to identify classic literatures. Another example of how I incorporated maturation into the lesson is by having the students write one paragraph about some of the events leading up to the Revolution and how they would feel if they were either King George or a colonist. This process begins the journaling process during research that will assist the students in fostering questions in later research. Questioning is another level of maturation that is introduced in my lesson plan. Again, it is very basic at the third grade level. Questioning is accomplished in the lesson plan by teacher led discussion and evaluation of the poem Boston, Hewes firsthand account of the Boston Tea Party, and the picture Boston Tea Party. Students are encouraged to find similarities, differences, and to ask questions.

The level of maturation in seventh graders will be somewhere in the middle between novice and expert. In the seventh grade lesson plan, students are engaged in more simultaneous levels of maturation that are more in-depth. The students will obtain a better knowledge of authority through their evaluation of primary document including The Bill of Rights, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, and personal accounts from the individuals who wrote or contributed to these documents. The analysis of these materials will also help the students understand the key authors of these documents and will establish who the “experts” are.

Moving the students from one level of understanding to the next level is accomplished in both lesson plans by introducing a new piece of material and evaluating it with other new materials and then drawing on past knowledge. This process is also known as evidence linking. Both the third graders and seventh graders develop maturation thru evidence linking thru evaluation and comparison of materials. For the third graders this is more introductory as they draw similarities and differences from Emerson’s poem and Hewes firsthand account before doing the same with Hewes firsthand account and the picture The Boston Tea Party. For the seventh graders this is accomplished through evaluation of several primary documents and linking information gained from them to previous knowledge as well as identifying similarities and differences between the documents. This process will encourage further questioning for both grade levels.

My justification for using this process is based off of Callison’s discussion of scaffolding. Callison suggests that “scaffolding has an important role in development of meaningful learning activities.” (Callison. 127) I’ve been in many classes where this process has been used and it has always been successful with my education, so I figure it must be a good one to use. However, the process of scaffolding played out differently in both lesson plans.

Information Scientist and Instructional Specialist:

The roles of student information scientist are different in many ways between the third and seventh grade lesson plans. For the third graders, the role of student information scientist will begin with determining the key research question that needs to be answered. They will formulate hypothesis and conclusions drawn from the materials provided by the teacher. The audience that will be addressed will be classmates and the teacher. The students will not have much of an opportunity to conduct research because the point of this exercise is to provide evaluation skills of various types of material.

The seventh grade class will also determine key research questions that need to be answered. These questions can be from class discussion or questions they come up with on their own. They will formulate hypothesis based off of individual, group, and class discussion of primary documents that will lead to some independent research of primary documents. They will fill out a worksheet form during their inquiries and write a reflection that will be read by the teacher. The emphasis on this assignment is the evaluation of primary documents and to question and understand motives behind decisions that were made in laying the governmental foundation of the United States.


In both lesson plans the teacher will guide students by providing examples to the topics that are being discussed. They will also provide examples of questions and
examples for making connections from previous materials covered to the material currently being discussed.

Information Standards:

Third Grade Lesson Plan:

1.1.6 Read, view, and listen to information presented in any format
1.1.9 Collaborate with others to broaden and deepen understanding
2.1.2 Organize knowledge so that it is useful
3.3.2 Respect the differing interests and experiences of others, and seek a variety of viewpoints

Seventh Grade Lesson Plan:

1.1.2 Use prior and background knowledge as context for new learning
2.2.3 Employ a critical stance in drawing conclusions by demonstrating that the pattern of evidence leads to a decision or conclusion
3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners
4.4.1 Identify own areas of interest

The information standards that I have listed are present accordingly to the third and seventh grade lesson plans. The primary difference is in the level of complexity. For the third graders, the focus is on using different formats, collaboration, organizing knowledge, and respecting other viewpoints. In short, the students are learning the basics of inquiry. The seventh grade lesson plan is much more in-depth and calls for the student to use prior knowledge, use of critical skill for drawing conclusions, collaboration, and indentifying own areas of interests to promote further free inquiry.



Callison, Daniel, Preddy, Leslie. The Blue Book. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006.


Terri Uchtman

Grade 11:
English/Language Arts Standards:
Write fictional, autobiographical, or biographical naratives that:

  • Narrate a sequence of events and communicate their significance to the audience.
  • Locate scenes and incidents in specific places.
  • Describe with specific details the sights, sounds, and smells of a scene and the specific actions, movemetns, gestures, and feelings of the characters; in the case of autobiography or fiction, use interior monologue to show the character's feelings.
  • Pace the presentation of actions to accommodate chagnes in time and mood.

Social Studies: (I know this is normally taken as a senior, but can be taken earlier)
United States Government Standards:
USG 2.2
Analyze and interpret central ideas on government, individual rights, and the common good in founding documents of the United States.


Description: You will create your own "Declaration of Independence." You may choose from what you seek independence and the style in which you write, but there are a few required elements.

Structure: Jefferson had a very defined structure in our Nation’s "Declaration of Independence." You must imitate this structure in your own declaration. We discussed the structure in class, but specifically, he begins by addressing the reason he is writing and making his audience and the persons for whom he seeks independence clear. Next, Jefferson clarifies the belief system of the people for whom he seeks independence to the audience. He then clarifies that the reason for seeking independence is because the current ruling body does not share this belief system and he then delineates all of the infractions committed. He lists the advances the Colonists have made toward reconciling the issue and describes how these advances were met and the way the Colonists have perceived the king (or prince.) Jefferson effectively describes the prince’s character and then states the course of action the Colonists intend to take to remedy the situation.

Belief System: Consider the people group for whom you seek independence. What qualities unite them? What commonalities can you find in their dress, habits, vocabulary, work ethic, attitudes, etc? What is it about the authority figure that inhibits these characteristics from being freely exhibited?

Reasons: Jefferson lists and explains twenty infractions the king has committed against the Colonists. You must give a minimum of ten. You may give more. You must also, as Jefferson does, explain why these acts are so appalling considering the oppressed people group.

Advances: Consider some things this group of people does to "smooth over rough waters" with the authority figure. How are these actions received?

Character: How does the oppressed people group view the ruling body? What qualities are most abominable? Remember, this is supposed to be funny, so don’t be too serious or critical.

Course of Action: How do you intend to lead these people to "higher ground?" What will now characterize them? How will others know that independence has been won? What do you expect the authority figure to stop doing immediately to show they adhere to your desires?

Grading: Jefferson’s "Declaration" is quite lengthy, but three pages for our purposes is sufficient. It should be typed, double spaced, 12 point TNR. You should apply the rules of standard written English, except where formatting or voice is being considered. The paper will be 100 points, but as different aspects of Jefferson’s required "Declaration" more time and thought, so should yours. Therefore, different point values will be considered. Correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc is an expectation in this course. Consequently, you will not receive credit for writing correctly, but you will lose points for errors which should have been caught during the revision process.
I will also be examining your paper for the 6 Traits of Writing we have been studying.

Belief System: 25 Points
Did you effectively "peg" your oppressed people?
Did you establish a belief system that unites this group?

Reasons: 40 points
Were there 10?
Were the reasons clear?
Were the infractions well-explained?
Were questions answered?

Advances: 15 Points
Were these well-explained?
Were these creative?
Did you discuss how these actions were received?

Character: 10 Points
Did you discuss the character of the authority figure?
Were these characteristics clear?
Did you stay light-hearted in this section

Course of Action: 10 Points
Were your expectations clear?
there a difference noted between current and expected activity?