Student Lessons 2006/07

Inquiry and Discussion

Listed below are links to quality inquiry lesson models. The models were created by students in Dr. James Hartwick's Methods of Teaching Social Studies course. Please feel free to browse the models and use them in your own classroom. Click the inquiry question to view the model in PDF form. 

Man on horse with native americans walking away

Why did Slavery Survive the American Revolution?

When the United States declared its independence in 1776, the slave population had grown to 500,000, about one-fifth of the new nation's residents.  While Americans experienced a fight against an oppressive government in the Revolutionary War, African Americans saw an opportunity to claim freedom in the ideals of the Revolution and the reality of war.  Ironically though, slavery continued to expand following the birth of a country built on egalitarian principles.  The following lesson plan is a prototype of the Inquiry model in which students formulate hypotheses and investigate a series of data sets in order to calibrate their findings with the purpose of developing a reasoned response to the focus question:  Why did the institution of slavery survive and expand into new territories after the War for Independence?  This lesson offers an in-depth perspective of the young republic and its founding fathers by examining personal letters, pro-slavery petitions, and the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence.  --Created by: Ben Prather

Two Civil War soldiers in hand to hand combat

Why did the United States Civil War Occur?

At the beginning of 1860, the United States was in a place it had never been politically, morally, or religiously before.  The fighting between Northern anti-slavery states and Southern pro-slavery states had escalated so far, that seven states decided in 1860 to secede from the Union.  All the hostility came to a point on April 12th, 1861 with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter.  War was now inevitable.  The United States Civil War was the bloodiest battle ever fought on U.S. territory.  Over the next four years the North would fight the South, rich would fight the poor, plantation owners would fight manufacturers, and brothers would fight against their very own brothers.  In this inquiry lesson students will generate hypotheses as to what caused the Civil War.  They will continue to revise their hypotheses through an analysis of several data sets, some primary and some secondary, and then come to a conclusion to the question: Why did the United States Civil War occur? --Created by: Chrystal Clark

Traignel Shirtwaist factory fire

Why did the Triangle Fire Occur?

In this inquiry students will investigate the factors contributing to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of  1911.  New York City with its diverse immigrant population and manufacturing base became a microcosm of the social, political, and economic changes resulting from industrialization and immigration.  Students will learn to evaluate materials with different points of view on the same event and develop their skills in evaluating primary documents.  This lesson has a strong link to the present in the evaluation of the continuing existence of sweatshop conditions in the U.S. and abroad and the economic benefit that the students themselves derive from these conditions.  Students will evaluate various data sets to determine why it became such a tragedy. --Created by: Kristina Shepard

Two women holding up Votes for Women sign

Votes for Women- Why so Long? 

Women's suffrage in the U.S. trailed over fifty years beyond the guarantee to vote for African American men in the 15th Amendment, despite over eighty years of struggle by the women's suffrage movement officially begun at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Why did the passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women (50% of the population) the right to vote, require such a tumultuous campaign of several generations? Stirrings of the women's suffrage movement can be traced back to Abigail Adams in a letter she wrote to her husband, John, as he collaborated in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. Students will explore the various social and political obstacles that suffragettes in the U.S. encountered toward their goal of full enfranchisement. Students will explore various strategies employed by petitioning groups within a democracy, as well as the varied responses of a democratic government to petitioning groups. This lesson will expose students to how one disenfranchised group (women) eventually reached their goal via increasingly aggressive venues of confrontation. Within this historical context of social and political struggle, and the tactics adopted by suffrage supporters, students are encouraged to expand their understanding of social movements of other marginalized groups in U.S. society. --Created by: Louise Austin

Parade of women during women suffrage

Why did Women get the Vote in 1919?

The battle for female suffrage in the United States began with a small group of women nearly seventy years before the realization of their goal. Multiple generations of people fought for women's right to vote. Why did it take so long for women to get the vote? Was 1919 the magical year for women's suffrage? Was the political climate more ideal in the 20th century than the 19th? Did men finally just hand over the vote to women? Were the progressives of the time ready for this change? By completing this inquiry, students will analyze the complex struggle for women's suffrage. Students will be exposed to both pro- and anti-suffrage rhetoric that was used throughout the multi-generational campaign for suffrage. --Created by: Emily Snyder

picture of family during the great depression

Why did the United States Fall into the Great Depression?

From 1929-1939 the United States fell into a Great Depression.  The world, let alone the U.S., had never been witness to such a full-scale economic depression.  Numerous factors contributed to its severity.  Measures were taken national and locally to alleviate its repercussions.  In this inquiry lesson students will generate hypotheses as to what caused the depression.  Through the use of classroom discussion and the evaluation of the data sets students will revise their hypotheses.  This inquiry lesson is important in that it allows students to infer upon the influence of each factor in the context of the question.  Upon conclusion, students will formulate and develop concise conclusions to the question: "Why did the United States Fall into the Great Depression?" --Created by: Thomas Kong

Picture of women and her children during the depression

Why did the Great Depression Happen?

(Click here for corresponding PowerPoint)

The roaring 1920's was a prosperous time for the United States.  Many people thought that the recovery from the first World War would continue and the nation would continue to prosper.  However it seemed that things were to good to be true. From the years 1929 - 1939 the United States, and many parts of the industrialized world, felt the blows of a strong economic depression.  It has been the longest and most severe depression recorded in United States History. 
            Why did the Great Depression happen?  This is the question students will attempt to answer during this inquiry lesson.  Students will be asked to generate hypotheses based on prior knowledge of the depression and on data sets provided to them by the instructor.  Through small group and class discussions students will analyze and synthesize these hypotheses to form their own conclusions.  These conclusions will be recorded in the form of  an essay. -- Created by: Laura Kingston

men sitting at a bar

What led to Desegregation in America?

The Civil Rights Movement was a set of legendary events in America aimed at gaining greater civil rights and abolishing acts of racial discrimination against African Americans.  In this lesson, students learn about that movement through the process of Inquiry.   In the Inquiry process, students formulate hypotheses and investigate a series of data sets in order to form a reasoned conclusion to the focus question: What led to desegregation in America?  Examples of data sets include: excerpts from the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) ruling, Rosa Parks' police report, and a video clip of Malcolm X.  Finally, students are presented with disconfirming data sets to promote discussion on whether or not the US is truly desegregated today. --Created by: Meghan Gamble

Berlin Wall

What Caused the Cold War?

After World War II the United States and the Soviet Union left the world on the brink of   nuclear annihilation as peaceful collaboration to rebuild Europe seemed impossible. Citizens around the world pondered how relations between these two countries had turned so frigid. The following lesson plan is a prototype of the Inquiry model in which students formulate hypotheses and investigate a series of data sets in order to calibrate their findings with the purpose of developing a reasoned response to the focus question: What Caused the Cold War? This lesson delves into the origins of the cold war by examining the divisions between these two super powers in an attempt to illustrate the importance of diplomacy to the resolution of international conflict. --Created by: Jeff Clowes

September 11th, planes hitting World Trade Centers

Why was the United States Attacked on September 11, 2001?

The lesson we are going to use for this section is known as an inquiry lesson.  It is a lesson that focuses on a complex question that does not have one exact answer. This question is then analyzed by looking at primary and secondary sources that offer different perspectives from opposing viewpoints.  The students have already been exposed to different inquiry lessons throughout the year.  We have already looked at the Clinton administration and are just starting to study the early part of President Bush's first term.  The students know that there were some very life-changing events that occurred early in Bush's presidency.  This lesson plan will focus on a question that many people cannot give a well-informed response to even though it is one of the most widely talked about events in the last 50 years.  This is the last inquiry of the year and focuses on a very important question that is connected to their lives both in and out of the classroom. The focus question the students are going to examine in this lesson plan is: Why was the United States attacked on September 11, 2001?   --Created by: Matt Flynn

Iraqi Flag

Why did the United States Invade Iraq in 2003?

After September 11th, 2001, the United States was forced to cope with a new kind of enemy; one without a face.  Terrorists had infiltrated the United States and brought the battlefield onto American soil for the first time since Pearl Harbor.  In order to prevent future attacks on the United States, President George W. Bush began to lobby Congress and international allies to join forces against rogue nations who could aid in assisting terrorists.  One country in particular, Iraq, became the focus of the Administration's attention.  Why was Iraq singled out as an imminent threat to the America? Students will study the information both preceding and following the March 2003 invasion in order to better understand the motivations of the United States. --Created by: Mike Harris