Celebrating Novinquiry with #sschat

by Mary Ellen Daneels, Lead Teacher Mentor

Every Monday from 6-7 p.m., social studies teachers from across the nation gather on Twitter to deliberate essential questions related to their craft on #sschat. The #sschat facilitators have declared this month “Novinquiry” as all discussions are designed to support student centered inquiry in the classroom.

IllinoisCivics.org joined Facing History and Ourselves and Chicago Public Schools Social Science and Civic Engagement Department to kick off Novinquiry hosting a chat on the topic of “Inquiry as Engagement: Connecting Across Differences” The seven questions that scaffolded the discussion were:
  1. What does a great current and controversial issue discussion that engages students across differences look like, feel like and sound like?
  2. What are your “go to” resources for inquiry that prepares students for these conversations?
  3. What do we gain from difference in the classroom? What do we lose without it?
  4. What would you say to a teacher that avoids controversies in the classroom because they fear being perceived as being too political?
  5. How do you move students towards better arguments: From arguing to win, to deliberating for a shared, better understanding?
  6. How do we find opportunities for difference in our classrooms when we are geographically and politically polarized?
  7. How do we honor students’ identities and lived experiences within the inquiry process?
As an educator, I value the opportunity to use #sschat to enhance my own practice with candid discourse around the opportunities and challenges of being a social studies teacher in the 21st century. The exchange to the right is just a snippet of the conversations and connections that occur each week. Participants share wonderings, successes, struggles, and most importantly, strategies and resources—the best kind of PD!

You can visit an archive of the chat to learn more and see the responses to the questions.

You can continue celebrating “Novinquiry” at the National Council of the Social Studies Annual Conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago November 30th-December 2nd. There is a special strand of programming on November 30th designed to support K-12 educators in implementing the new Illinois Social Science Standards and high school civic education requirement.

The day will begin with and opening plenary hosted by Dr. Diana Hess to address the opportunities and challenges in engaging students in dialogue in an era of political polarization. Workshop sessions that follow will highlight how deliberation, student voice and informed action can be leveraged to connect classrooms across cultural, geographic, and socio-economic differences to promote culturally sustainable teaching. The day will conclude with Eric Liu from Citizen’s University hosting the first ever Better Arguments Project in conjunction with Facing History and Ourselves and the Aspen Institute. For more information on this strand of learning, visit the online guidebook.

How are you celebrating “Novinquiry?” Please comment below. Together, we can prepare all students for college, career and civic life.

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