Inquiry-Based Learning in Grade 9 Geography and Grade 10 History

Area(s) of Focus: technology
Division(s): Junior
Level(s): Grade 9, Grade 10

Inquiry-based learning unit of study in Grade 9 geography (Liveable Communities) and Grade 10 history (Canada, 1929-1945). Templates included to be used in any inquiry model at any grade level.

The goal is to introduce inquiry-based learning to Grade 9 and 10 students in geography and history. Teachers will learn the procedure to delivering lessons and activities that incorporate the ideas of the model. Teachers will implement the model/process in phases (from unit to unit) to ensure student understanding of the model and to assess student learning throughout the semester. In the end, students will be fully versed in the process and apply it in a culminating activity.

Team Members

  • John Chittaro

    Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board

  • Todd Laing

    Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board

  • Peter Zahran

    Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board

  • Will Ruttinger

    Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board

Professional Learning Goals

  • Took advantage of the technology available within our schools
  • Used resources that were free to our school, which removed barriers to learning
  • Emphasized inquiry-based learning through the use of technology
  • Focused on the revisions in the social science curriculum
  • Provided teachers with time to understand and implement the inquiry model and test the legitimacy of its outcomes

Activities and Resources

  1. Book lab time, including sharing Chromebook carts
  2. Sharing Google Docs, Sheets, Slides
  3. Inquiry model templates and worksheets
  4. Reading/sharing the following resources:

a) Hacking Project Based Learning – Ross Cooper, Erin Murphy

b) Teaching Geographical Thinking – Bob Sharp, Kamilla Bahbahani, Niem Tu Huynh

c) The Building Capacity Series – Ministry of Education, Ontario


Unexpected Challenges

  • Teaching inquiry to the students is challenging and a slow process
  • Creating and using the proper assessment tools for evaluation of student work is a challenge
  • Incorporating checklists/daily anecdotal notes to assess “for” learning student progress is challenging

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

  • Developed critical-thinking through daily practice
  • Developed ability to synthesize information
  • Learned how to ask questions to lead an inquiry
  • Learned how to draw conclusions after analysis of data and information
  • Leadership in small group discussion and sharing
  • Ideas are the main “ingredient” for the inquiry classroom
  • Increased student collaboration
  • Sharpened student research skills
  • Sharpened student’s time management skills
  • Emphasized student responsibility


  • Google Suite – Slides, Sheets, Docs
  • Professional Development Day – in school and with other social science teachers in the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board
  • Board-wide Professional Learning Communities
  • Best practice sharing at social science teacher professional development

Project Evaluation

Yes, our project was a success. The group took advantage of the time to collaborate and this had the biggest impact on our success. We shared what worked and what didn’t simply with our Google Suite. The project encouraged the group to work towards similar goals for student learning. This project is a starting point for future collaboration to implement inquiry throughout our courses in September.

If we did it differently, we would have focused on only one course of study. While we accomplished a great deal for one unit of study per course, a concentrated effort on one course (Grade 9 geography) would have been better organized and simpler to present to our colleagues.

Resources Used

Capacity Building Series – teacher resource for all things inquiry

e-Learning Ontario – a vast library of lessons, activities and units of study

Making Connections 3rd Edition eText – classroom resource for Grade 9 geography

Hacking Project Based Learning – Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy

Teaching Geographical Thinking Bob Sharp, Kamilla Bahbahani and Niem Tu Huynh