Inquiry in Humanities

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Inquiry in Humanities

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

Foundational Principles and Distinctive Features of Humanities

  • 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.

Student Skills and Learning Responsibilities

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.

Teaching Practices and Pedagogy

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.