Zoom-In Inquiry is often used to ignite curiosity and to build background knowledge of a topic under study. During this activity, students uncover a primary source, text, artwork, student work or any other image piece by piece in order to look closely and use background knowledge to build understanding. An investigative question starts the exploration and guiding questions focused on observation, interpretation, and evaluation follow as pieces of the image are revealed one at a time. Students use evidence and subject specific vocabulary to support their hypotheses. Students reflect on their understanding of the primary source and its relationship to “the big picture” or a large scale understanding that is overarching and essential to the subject. Finally, other related historical sources or images are presented that ask students to test the application of their hypothesis with a new source or problem.
Five Steps to prepare a Zoom In Inquiry
Step 1 Content: Identify the standards of learning and essential question or big idea for the topic under study and find a unique source that will spark curiosity and activate or further background knowledge.
Step 2 Visible Thinking: Create an idea tracker for students to monitor and assessing their thinking during the activity. For example, these trackers use a Project Zero Visible Thinking Routine. An essential question posed at the top for students to consider. Students jot down their claims about the source, supporting evidence and either questions or connections based on this evidence. Questions are useful for pursuing further research while connections are practical for reviewing previous lessons or making explicit connections to a text book.
Step 3 Learning Process: Crop image into pieces for students to analyze one at a time to support their analysis and interpretation of the source.
Step 4 Product of Learning: Determine how students will respond to the questions in the Zoom In Inquiry and further their inquiry through interrogating other sources or additional reading, research, and/or learning activities.
Step 5 Reflect and Plan: Ask students to assess their learning about the topic under study and reflect on the process of using Zoom In Inquiry to build ideas. Ask student to plan with you next steps to continue learning.
Questions that Build and Assess Understanding
- Start with an Investigative Question:
What might this source tell us about ____? or How does this source confirm or change your thinking about ____?
- Spiral Guiding Questions:
- Look Closely: Observation Questions
What do you see?
Describe who/what you see in this image.
What new people or things to you see?
Activate-Build Background knowledge, Use Vocabulary in Context: Interpretation Questions
When do you think this image was taken?
Make a hypothesis about what is happening in this picture.
What do you think happened before this picture was taken?
Reflect and Wonder: Evaluation Questions
How did your perception of the image change as you saw more?
Why do you think this image was created?
What questions do you have?
- Reach for “Big Picture” Understandings:
What does this image say about the relationship between _______ and ______?
Based on this image, how can you explain the impact of _______ on ________?
What do you understand about the role of __________ in our nation’s history?
How is _______________ applied to _______________?
- Corroborate or test ideas through additional research.
How do these sources confirm or change your thinking?
Zoom In Inquiry creates irresistible invitations to be Curious
Reflect on the thinking process by asking students to identify comments and actions that were heard or seen during Zoom In Inquiry that showed someone being “curious” by:
- Asking questions
- Observing closely
- Finding problems
- Being playful