Teaching Social Studies Inquiry and

Argument Writing with Sources


A Process that Structures Inquiry and Argument Writing Through a Set of Disciplinary Literacy Tools.

A Progression in Types of Argument Writing Across Investigations of History/Social Science Content.

Typical social studies instruction positions teachers and textbooks as the only sources of valid knowledge and marginalizes the voices and agency that students bring to the classroom. As a consequence, social studies classrooms have often been places where students are only given opportunities to listen quietly to the teacher or memorize fixed narratives of national progress that silence histories of violence and oppression and obscure Whiteness. There is often little room for discussion, critique, or argument, and little opportunity to situate oneself in relation to the past or few opportunities to develop the literacies often required to assert oneself in the present. 

Read.Inquire.Write. curriculum supports middle school students’ full participation in inquiry and argument writing in social studies across 6th through 8th grades. We focus particularly on English learners—both newcomers and mainstreamed bi/multilingual learners—and students who have experienced less success in school. This project is currently funded by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium and has been funded by the Spencer Foundation and the Braitmayer Foundation in the past.

If you look at kids who are below grade level in reading, they can all do the writing; they know how to do it and they are confident.
Kimberly Harn, Middle School Teacher, Ann Arbor, MI

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