Social Worlds Inquiry Curriculum

Our social interactions using words, actions, symbols, and artifacts construct our identities, relationships, beliefs, and values. Our symbolic experience on the social and material plane of experience forms a dialectic with our consciouness and sense of agency in the ideational and emotional plane. These beliefs about the relationship of symbol to mind, social to individual, and perception to reality provide the rationale for an inquiry curriculum in the English classroom that focuses on how social worlds are constructed, negotiated, maintained, and contested through literacy, language, media, and all forms of symbolic interaction. This inquiry is equally applied to both our lived experience and the human experience as represented in literature, media, and new virtual electronic contexts.

Beach, R. & Myers, J. (2001). Inquiry-Based English Instruction: Engaging Students in Life and Literature. New York: Teachers College Press.

A significant number of classroom examples in our book were generated in Carol Paul's ninth grade English class in State College Area High School. Kelly Bertoty was an intern, and Amy Taylor and Jamie Myers were co-teachers in this classroom during a Social Worlds Unit. This unit resulted in a massive number of print based and media based projects and products created by students as they inquired into the nature of social worlds in life and literature (an anthology of short stories entitled Coming of Age, Bruce Emra, Editor, National Textbook Company, Lincolnwood, Illinois.). This web site shares many of those examples, organized chronologically around the evolution of the unit.

Unit Description

Teachers' Artifacts in Response to the short story "And Summer is Gone" by Susie Kretschmer

Students' Artifacts in Response to Literature

Do I Fit In?
Families and Friends
Falling in Love
Out in the World

Students' Inquiry Projects into Lived Social Worlds