Funded by the James S. McDonnell Foundation, we are a team of teachers, teacher educators, curriculum developers, and researchers who are currently developing and testing a sustainable professional development (PD) model to support inquiry teaching in social studies. We see inquiry teaching as a way to engage students in constructing and critiquing arguments and as a way to support students’ disciplinary reasoning, discussion, and writing. Our site- based PD explores instructional practices that support student learning while participants attend to student thinking and co-plan, co-teach, and debrief lessons together (we build from the University of Washington Learning Lab model). Instructional practices include eliciting and responding to student thinking, facilitating discussions, supporting small group work, supporting English learners and other students who have difficulty with literacy, modeling reading/analysis of texts, and teaching argument writing.
As we work with our school partners, we study teachers’ thinking, instruction, and experiences with the PD in order to understand how the PD supports teachers’ learning. Based on these findings, we continuously improve the PD so that it is supportive of teachers’ learning and useful to their instruction. A teacher advisory group works with us as collaborators in this process so that the PD model is responsive to local priorities, constraints, and interests. Ultimately, our goal is to develop a sustainable PD model that can be replicated and that is engaging, useful, and supportive of both teachers’ and students’ learning.