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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

Typical social studies instruction positions teachers and textbooks as the only sources of valid knowledge and marginalizes the voices and agency that students bring to the classroom. As a consequence, social studies classrooms have often been places where students are only given opportunities to listen quietly to the teacher or memorize fixed narratives of national progress that silence histories of violence and oppression and obscure Whiteness. There is often little room for discussion, critique, or argument, and little opportunity to situate oneself in relation to the past or few opportunities to develop the literacies often required to assert oneself in the present. The Teaching Reasoning and Inquiry Project in Social Studies (TRIPSS) Lab includes two middle school social studies education projects aimed at disrupting this pattern: 

We are developing, testing, and refining curriculum to support middle school students’ full participation in inquiry and argument writing in social studies across 6th through 8th grades. We focus particularly on English learners—both newcomers and mainstreamed ELs—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 facilitating social studies inquiry and supporting students’ social studies thinking and writing. We work alongside teachers to co-teach with the Read.Inquire.Write. curriculum in classrooms during part of each PD day 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 McDonnell Foundation. We partner with Northern Illinois University and Stanford University/Envision Schools in this work.

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

Contact information 
Aileen Kennison,







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