Inquiry in Humanities

Inquiry in Humanities

What does inquiry look like in Humanities?
What distinguishes the Humanities classroom at Cate?

  • 9th Grade Humanities focuses on Western civilization and is common to all 9th
  • It is a team-taught, interdisciplinary course combining English and history and drawing on fine arts, math, and science.
  • Inquiry is foundational to the course: Each unit begins with an inquiry activity and many classes incorporate inquiry as a primary approach to course materials.
  • The development of analytical and creative writing skills is fundamental to the course as are skills related to presentations, participation, close reading, and grammar.
  • Humanities aims to be an inclusive course in terms of both content, learning approaches, and classroom dynamics.
  • Humanities has a yearly inquiry-driven visit to the Getty Museum (L.A.).

Cate students are expected to:

  • Make multiple, detailed observations of artifacts and class materials.
  • Develop contextually relevant questions based on their observations.
  • Draw inferences and interpretations from their observations and questions.
  • Put forward initial assertions.
  • Consider alternative perspectives when making observations, questions, and inferences.
  • Research and find evidence to support assertions.
  • Analyze evidence for its significance and connection to assertions.
  • Communicate effectively in papers using analytical and creative writing skills.
  • Communicate effectively in class discussion and presentations using textual references and public speaking techniques.
  • Demonstrate interdisciplinary thinking by drawing connections across class materials, subject matter, peoples and time.
  • Take charge of their own learning, inside and outside the classroom.

Cate Humanities teachers design lessons and teach in ways that “Explore before Explain.” To do this, teachers:

  • Provide an artifact as a starting point for inquiry. An artifact can be a primary/literary document, a work of art, an architectural structure, a map, data, music, or image.
  • Give time and emphasis to the student-led process of observe, question, and infer.
  • Employ a questioning framework to develop student questioning skills.
  • Design the course with specific content that drives inquiry by being engaging, inclusive, and thematically connected to the class.
  • Promote interdisciplinary thinking and alternative perspectives analysis.

Teachers also:

  • Emphasize and develop foundational skills that directly support student inquiry thinking, writing, and communication abilities.
  • Use diagnostic and formative assessment techniques and provide feedback to help each student’s metacognition about their learning process and skills awareness.
  • Use inclusive teaching methods to encourage diverse perspectives and viewpoints.
  • Intentionally incorporate interdisciplinary learning in the classroom.
  • Encourage student-led discussion.