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Inquiry Tasks for
Julie Coiro, PhD
University of Rhode Island
In this session…
• What sparks reading engagement?
• What is important to consider when designing online
inquiry tasks for younger children?
• What are some examples of structured online inquiry
in elementary school?
• What digital tools and instructional techniques can I
incorporate into structured online inquiry tasks?
• How can I get started?
How does a
THOUGHTS ?ACTIONS ?
What does an
How can we motivate and
Create intentional opportunities for the
following in our teaching:
• Mattering (being of importance; having significance)
Questioning, Locating, Evaluating,
while reading on the Internet
How can we motivate and engage readers while
also building online inquiry skills?
Structured Online Inquiry Circles
Structured opportunities to anticipate, explore, talk about, and
matter while working collaboratively to solve online
information problems and real-life scenarios
1 2 3
Types of Inquiry-Based Learning
• Modeled inquiry: Students observe models of how the
leader ask questions and makes decisions.
• Structured Inquiry: Students make choices which are
dependent upon guidelines and structure given by the
leader (may vary).
• Guided Inquiry: Students make choices during inquiry
that lead to deeper understanding guided by some
structure given by the leader.
• Open Inquiry: Students make all of the decisions. There
is little to no guidance.
Alberta Inquiry Model of Inquiry Based Learning (2004)
What is important to consider when
designing online inquiry tasks for younger
What digital tools and instructional
techniques can I incorporate into
structured inquiry tasks?
Begin With An Authentic Task
and a simple sequence of steps
Use a webpage builder like Google Sites, Weebly, Wix, or even Google Doc!
Encourage partner work to help
co-construct an understanding of challenging
texts, concepts, and online reading practices
Monitor understanding, request & give information
Strategic Reading: Read, question, monitor, repair,
infer, connect, clarify, and interpret
Evan & William – Gr. 5
Design a Structured
Informational Overview Page
(Use a webpage builder like Google Sites, Wikispaces, Weebly, Wix, etc.)
Design a Structured Search
(Google Custom Search)
Using Google Custom Search
1. CREATE ENGINE
2. ADD LINKS
3. BUILD LIST
4. SHARE LINK
Include Multimodal Sources
to vary texts, increase interest, and decrease readability
Design Authentic Response Tasks
that engage students in composing digital products
Structured Inquiry Tasks
• Design an authentic inquiry task to connect
to relevant, real-world concepts and events
• Provide opportunity to work with a partner to co-construct
understanding around challenging texts/ideas
• Design an informational overview page with embedded
hyperlinks to build prior knowledge
• Provide a sequenced list of steps to engage in the process
• Provide a safe-search interface with limited number of
• Include multimodal sources (e.g. video, images, interactive
timelines) to increase interest and decrease readability in
some parts of the task
• Design authentic response tasks (e.g. send an email, create
a podcast) to engage students in composing digital
What are some other examples of structured
online inquiry in elementary school?
Turn and Talk.
Questions, Observations, Concerns?
Teaching With Structured Online Inquiry Tasks
How do I get started?
Envisioning Inquiry Tasks In A Weekly Routine
(Perhaps once a month or once a unit)
Introduce & Model
•Introduce the task
– Set the stage
•Model use of
•Lesson: Reading Search
Engines – generating
inferences, and evaluating
relevance of results pages
Questions? Connections? Ideas for weaving into your routines?
Good starting places in your curriculum?
Turn and Talk: Structured Online Inquiry Circles
Fostering Productive Talk Patterns to
Support Higher-Level Thinking
• Teach students how to collaboratively
build on partner’s ideas and jointly
construct new insights rather than
individually compiling facts
• Teach students when and how to apply
Internet reciprocal teaching strategies
• Teach students how to monitor and
stay focused on their purpose and
relevant texts as well as when and how
to think critically
See http://coiroira2013.wikispaces.com/ for ideas
• Inquiry-based learning that pairs students to explore
online texts together provides an engaging context for
encouraging strategic online literacy practices.
• Well designed structured online inquiry tasks support
students as they become more self-directed learners and
more productive listeners, speakers, and collaborators.
• Digital scaffolds can also build teacher confidence to
comfortably explore online inquiry with young children.
For more details:
Sekeres, D., Coiro, J., Castek, J., & Guzniczak, L. A. (2014).
Wondering + Online Inquiry = Learning. Phi Delta Kappan,
How do I know if and what children are
learning during structured online inquiry?
How might these structured inquiry tasks be used to
foster productive talk experiences where students
build on each other’s ideas (Speaking and Listening:
Comprehension and Collaboration) while engaged in
developmentally challenging online reading, writing,
and research activities (Reading: Integrate knowledge and ideas;
Writing: Research to build and present knowledge)?
Coiro, Sekeres, Castek, & Guzniczak [related publications]
LRA Yearbook 2012; Educational Forum, 2013; Journal of Education 2013;
LRA Conference 2014; Phi Delta Kappan 2014; The Reading Teacher (in press)
Less strategic reading: reading aloud, taking separate notes
(Jack rereading, monitoring, asking questions, attempts to interpret;
Jill supports erroneous interpretation)
Jill – Gr. 5
Less productive talk: take turns giving information;
(Jack requests clarification; Jill replies with shallow
reactions and twice ignores Jack’s requests before
Noticing Strengths and Difficulties in
Cognitive & Social Engagement
Category Characteristics Examined
Subject Uses the subject line to summarize the gist of the email
Introduction Tells who the authors of the email are and why they are
knowledgeable about green toys (toys & eco-friendly materials
Register Uses a tone that suggests communication with an adult that
they’ve never met before
Context Provides context to signal to the recipient what they’re writing
Organization Construct email so it’s easy to read at a glance using spacing
between ideas and references directly and explicitly their choices
Closing Summarizes their choices and closes with an exchange that
includes a way to reach them for further questions, and a
Use of Digital
Uses digital affordances of email (e.g., hyperlinks, images,
attachments, embedded hyperlinks) to enhance their message
Examining Learning Products (email)