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Teaching Reasoning and Inquiry Project in Social Studies (TRIPSS)

The Teaching Reasoning and Inquiry Project in Social Studies (TRIPSS) Lab involves two projects: 

  1. Read.Inquire.Write.
  2. TRIPSS Professional Development

The Teaching Reasoning and Inquiry Project in Social Studies (TRIPSS) team recognizes that students bring important voices and agency to their learning and can contribute to the development of knowledge about the past and about current social issues. Through curriculum and teacher professional development, we foster opportunities for students to draw on their own rich and diverse perspectives and engage with sources that disrupt fixed narratives of steady progress and reveal histories, structures, and practices that help them situate themselves with greater understanding in relation to the events and structures that have shaped the world they live in. This is in contrast to social studies classrooms where textbooks and teachers are the only sources of knowledge, where histories of violence and oppression are silenced, where whiteness is obscured, and where students have little opportunity to connect their lives to the past or develop literacies useful in the present. The TRIPSS Lab currently includes two middle school social studies education projects:

Read.Inquire.Write. is a collaboratively designed curriculum that supports middle school students’ full participation in social studies inquiry and argument writing across 6th through 8th grades. The curriculum offers opportunities to develop disciplinary literacies and knowledge. It includes multiple supports for bilingual and multilingual learners—newcomers as well as more proficient language learners—and students who have experienced less success in school. This project is currently funded by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium and has been funded by the Spencer Foundation and the Braitmayer Foundation in the past.

TRIPSS Professional Development
We are developing, testing, and refining a school site-based professional development model to support teachers in engaging students in inquiry that develops social studies knowledge as well as disciplinary thinking and writing. We base our PD on the University of Washington’s Learning Lab approach. During PD days, we work alongside teachers to co-teach with the Read.Inquire.Write. curriculum in classrooms and learn from students’ thinking and writing. We are designing an observation protocol and teacher survey to assess teachers’ learning as part of this work. This project is funded by the James S. McDonnell Foundation. We have worked with Northern Illinois University and Stanford University/Envision Schools on this project.

Our Approach
We partner with teachers and school districts to conduct Design-Based Research, allowing us to see how designed curriculum and PD materials are working, for whom, and why within classroom settings. On the basis of observations, interviews, and students’ work, we revise materials as needed so that they are most supportive of the diverse range of students and teachers in schools.

Project Participants

Professor, Marsal Family School of Education
Research Area Specialist
Administrative Specialist; Lecturer II in Teacher Education