Inquiry Chart

UDL 3.2 UDL 6.3

An Inquiry Chart is a graphic organizer that students use to generate meaningful inquiry questions about a topic (e.g., pre-reading) and record information to answer those questions (e.g., while reading) in order to foster critical thinking, deepen reading comprehension, and help students organize their writing. Once a topic is selected (e.g., pre-selected by the teacher, self-selected by the student), students activate prior knowledge by considering what they already know about the topic. Next, students develop inquiry questions (e.g., what students want to learn or know more about), which are then added to the top of each column on the Inquiry Chart. After, students listen to, or read and review multiple sources to research information related to their inquiries, which is then recorded onto their chart. Lastly, students form summaries of collected information and compare their details (e.g., post-reading). An Inquiry Chart can be completed independently, with partnerships, in small groups, or as a whole class.

Implementation Tips

Inquiry Charts
Prepare Inquiry Charts for students to use when generating inquiry questions and keeping track of information related to their topic. Create or print [[ | this version ]] that provides space for students to collect information from up to three different sources, or [[ | this version ]] that provides space for up to four sources.
Preparing Valuable Sources
Prepare valuable sources (e.g., fiction and nonfiction books, articles, videos) for students to access that relate to research topics (e.g., pre-selected or student-selected based on unit areas of study). Find free student-friendly videos and text sources at [[ | National Geographic Kids ]] or [[ | Scholastic News Online ]].
Introducing Inquiry Charts
Introduce the strategy by having students create a whole class Inquiry Chart. Ask students to share prior knowledge, then help students generate questions that will elicit additional research. Model how to include questions on the Inquiry Chart. After, read a short texts aloud to show how to find information.
Pre-fill sections of an Inquiry Chart to support students that have difficulty with task initiation, or to guide students when using the strategy for the first time (e.g., provide pre-determined questions for students to research/evaluate). Highlight the area on the chart for students to also generate their own inquiries.
Supporting Critical Thinking Through Inquiry Charts
Ask students to resolve competing ideas found in separate sources (e.g., a text that highlights a shark as a dangerous predator vs. an article that explains inhumane shark killings for their fins). Encourage students to develop new questions to explore based on the conflicting information presented.
Collaborating with Peers
Allow students the option to work in partnerships or in small groups while creating and completing an Inquiry Chart to foster collaboration. Students work together to build prior knowledge and form a supportive team while researching through multiple sources of information.
Building Routines
Use Inquiry Charts when introducing complex topics of study to help activate students’ prior knowledge and support student understanding as new information is presented. Inquiry Charts allow students to explore and keep track of different answers from various perspectives in an organized manner.
Increasing Student Motivation
Allow students to select their own topics of inquiry once students have become familiarized with the strategy, and support students in finding available resources. Also, assign students to create a product after completing any Inquiry Chart to summarize findings (e.g., research paper, PowerPoint presentation, brochure, poster).


Introducing a New Unit of Study
While launching a new unit on amphibians, a teacher uses an Inquiry Chart to support student understanding and organization. First, the teacher conducts an open conversation to gauge prior knowledge (e.g., students name some amphibians and interesting facts). Next, the teacher introduces and explains the Inquiry Chart. To guide students, the teacher provides a sample inquiry question for the 1st column (e.g., “What helps amphibians swim better?”). The class then works together to develop three additional inquiries, which are added to adjacent columns on the chart. After, the teacher reads aloud two short passages and one article for the class to research. The class works together to add their findings and create a summary of the information discovered.
Collaborative Research
During an American Revolution unit, a teacher uses Inquiry Charts to motivate students to think critically. The teacher explains, “Today, you will work in small groups using an Inquiry Chart to learn even more about the American Revolution. After, this information will be used to create a project!” Students are divided into small groups, and each group is given a blank copy of an Inquiry Chart. First, students share what they already know about the American Revolution. The group then collaboratively decides what they would like to know more about, and adds those inquiries to the chart. After, students use a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts to gather information. At the end, the group chooses from a list of options to present their findings (e.g., a poster, skit as news broadcasters, research paper).

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