Annotated Bibliography


Module 1 Annotated Bibliography


 INQUIRY LEARNING IN ENGLISH Junior Secondary/Middle Years

My searches located a number of relevant articles on inquiry learning. I used Rheingold’s CRAP test to select the eight resources in this annotated bibliography.

Currency –

  • How recent is the information?
  • How recently has the website been updated?
  • Is it current enough for your topic?

Reliability –

  • What kind of information is included in the resource?
  • Is content of the resource primarily opinion? Is it balanced?
  • Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?

Authority –

  • Who is the creator or author?
  • What are the credentials?
  • Who is the published or sponsor?
  • Are they reputable?
  • What is the publisher’s interest (if any) in this information?
  • Are there advertisements on the website?

Purpose/Point of View –

  • Is this fact or opinion?
  • Is it biased?
  • Is the creator/author trying to sell you something?

Sourced from Howard Rheingold (2013)



Branch, J. Oberg, D. (2004) Focus on Inquiry: a teacher’s guide to implementing inquiry-based learning. Retrieved from


This text was prepared for administrators and educators K-12 in Alberta, Canada on the implementation of inquiry learning. It is virtually a manual on inquiry learning starting from a rationale for using inquiry learning, and ending its thirteen chapters with suggestions for professional growth. It identifies six phases in its inquiry model with reflection on the process integral to all phases. Each phase is explored explicitly:

  • Planning
  • Retrieving
  • Processing
  • Creating
  • Sharing
  • Evaluating

It discusses the process for building a culture of inquiry and gives examples of curriculum links including English Language Arts in the secondary years. Tips for teachers are given throughout to assist with differentiation and support deeper understanding. This is a very detailed and informative text.

Reason for Selection

The text is founded on extensive research over a number of years. Even though the text is ten years old it is still very relevant for teachers now. There are numerous references from varied disciplines provided for each chapter. These include acknowledged experts in inquiry learning such as Carol Kuhlthau. The information is practical and covers the whole process of an inquiry learning approach in one document. It applies to all curriculum areas and has a specific framework for English, which is my topic. I found answers to my questions about inquiry frameworks specifically for English and using it with students who have disabilities. The purpose of this text is to inform educators on what inquiry learning is and how to implement it effectively. This text passes the CRAP test, as it is relevant, the references are credible, it is written by noted authors and is published by an educational institution to support educators.


Kuhlthau, C. (2010) Guided inquiry: School libraries in the 21st Century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16 (1), 17-28. Retrieved from


Kuhlthau makes the point that students need to be educated for the 21st century and the skills and abilities they now require to cope in an ever-changing world are best learnt through guided inquiry. It is no longer enough to ‘teach’ new technologies. Rather students should be equipped to be creative and make meaning through and with technology. The library and the librarian is a vital partner in this process along with the teacher and other experts as they provide a range of resources and varied communication channels for learning.

Reason for Selection

The information provided on how to accomplish learning objectives is useful for all subject areas and gives an example of what this could look like in middle school English, which is my focus. This article outlines succinctly the kinds of learning that inquiry learning fosters and how the library plays a role in this. It is credible as the author is widely acknowledged for her research on inquiry learning and she has used extensive references. It was published in recent years in reputable journal for the purpose of informing educators and librarians. It passes the CRAP test.


Rojtas-Milliner, Mary Cay. (2010). Reading Skills-What School Librarians Need to Know. School Library Monthly 26.6 (Feb 2010): 50-52. Retrieved from


In this article, the author reflects on her observations of the increase in the number of high school students with poor literacy skills in the last five years. She identified that the teaching of reading did not continue into secondary. Her overarching point is that a systematic approach to reading is required throughout schooling not just in the primary years. Without this, students may not develop the reading strategies to comprehend complex texts or become independent learners. She underlines the importance of students developing critical and information literacy skills. An outline is given of the components required in an effective middle school reading program.

 Reason for Selection

The main reason I chose this article was due to its focus on reading in the middle years of schooling. The author painted a picture of what I see in my own context around secondary students with poor literacy skills. What she has quoted is relevant, useful and is indicative of current practices. Her references are representative of authorities in the field of reading and inquiry learning. Kuhlthau is again prominently on the list. The article was reproduced in a peer-reviewed journal. This passes the CRAP test.



YouthLearn Initiative (US). (2009). A Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning. [online]. v.44 n.1 p.4-11. Retrieved from;dn=174497


This article describes inquiry-based learning as one of the terms applied to learning where the lessons are driven by the learner’s questions. The author points out that this is not a new method of teaching and learning. Using this approach though, is more web-like so it matches the everyday media experiences of students. It is suggested that teachers may not wish to utilize the approach across the board in their classrooms because of restraints imposed by education systems. However the author has identified implicit advantages to adopting this approach:

  • Flexibility across disciplines
  • Awakens confidence and self-esteem
  • Suited to collaborative and team work
  • Works with any age group
  • Validates experience and knowledge of all students

The appendices provide a step-by-step framework for creating an inquiry-based project.

Reason for Selection

Although this article does not deal with English or junior secondary specifically, it does give a well-rounded description of inquiry-based learning and the appendices are informative and practical. The tips provided in each section serve as a guide on what to do and what not to do for inquiry-based learning to work effectively. Appendix 2 deals solely with questioning in quite some depth. A noted education centre in Massachusetts published the article, so it is credible and reliable. There are no references given but it was primarily published for practical information for educators. This is a pass on Rheingold’s CRAP test.



Murdoch, K. (2012) The inquiry learning: journeys through the thinking process. Retrieved from Summary


The author explores the role of an integrated inquiry approach in a thinking oriented curriculum. She argues that thinking should be planned in every unit, as it is a companion for inquiry. She identifies several practices that are useful for planning:

  • Provocative, essential questions
  • Provide students with something worth thinking about
  • Ensure there is relevance to real-life
  • Consider what type of thinking skills students need
  • Consider thinking dispositions to highlight, e.g. persistence
  • Have students make thinking visible
  • Use students’ own questions
  • Take time to stop and reflect

Reason for Selection

This article is written by an Australian education consultant who is also a fellow of the University of Melbourne. This stirred my interest to see an Australian contribution and a relatively recent one. It is not specifically related to English but can be applied across the KLA’s. The notion of integrating thinking skills and inquiry learning is made clear, especially the highlighting of thinking dispositions, which has not been mentioned in other sources to date. This is a well-structured, informative article written by a credible author who has used authorative references. This is another pass on the CRAP test.



Heick, T. (2012) The Inside-Out School: A 21st Century Learning Model. Retrieved from


The author outlines nine characteristics of 21st Century learning:

  • 5 Learning Actuators
  • Self-Initiated Transfer
  • Climate of Assessment
  • Changing Habits
  • Mentoring & Community
  • Thought & Abstraction
  • Transparency
  • Changing Roles
  • Expanding Literacies

He sees learning as being situated within the community and away from academia. Schools are curators of resources and learning tools. Within the 9 domains, learning is project based and requires versatility in the face of changing world. Gamification and publishing replaces the system of grading. The approach is highly constructive, focusing on meta-cognition, cognitive coaching and mentorship. Struggle and abstraction are part of the response to real-world activities. Literacies are designed to critically survey thinking, digital and non-digital media. Classrooms are think-tanks.

Reason for Selection

This article does not specifically use the term inquiry learning but it does provide a framework for 21st Century learning encompassing divergent thinking and authentic environments. It promotes the communal construction of outcomes, performance criteria and the constant practice of prioritized big ideas. It provides a slightly different slant on inquiry as it teases out how to change old habits and describes expanding literacies. The article was published online at TeachThought which is an organization of teachers for teachers. The author is a former English teacher who is now the director. The website references respected writers and academics such as Ken Robinson. The article also gives references that are of note such as Vygotsky and Bruner. It has passed the CRAP test.


Tobin, R. (2005). Responding to diversity: Differentiating in the language arts classroom. Retrieved from


As is evident from the title, this article discusses differentiation in Language Arts as it main topic and does not specifically refer to inquiry learning. The author gives a wide range of strategies for differentiation. What it does pinpoint is that discussion using guiding questions is effective in accessing the complexity and degree of structure a learner requires. The author speaks about using a menu of projects to focus on key aspects of Language Arts. The approach relies on students working collaboratively in dynamic groups on big ideas related to real-life and responding creatively at their own level. Students are given access to a variety of resources – digital and non-digital.

 Reason for Selection

The main reason I selected this article was because it deals with Language Arts at a secondary level as well as primary. It answered my questions around how to differentiate in Language Arts as well as giving examples of questioning and ways of grouping students dynamically. According to the CRAP test, this article passes as it is: reasonably current (within the last 10 years); extensively referenced; the author is reputable and presents a well-balanced article.



Morgan, Anne-Marie. (2012). Subject-specific literacies and transition in the middle years : examples of teacher thinking, research and practice. [online]. Literacy Learning : the Middle Years; v.20 n.3 p.39-51; October 2012.  Retrieved from;dn=194329;res=AEIPT


This paper looks at two teacher’s practices in adapting design-based research to implement literacy interventions in their classrooms. One teacher is involved in teaching primary science and the other, secondary English. Their experiences using this inquiry approach are described, as is the impact this had on their understanding of their own methods of teaching literacy. The outcome proved that transitions in the middle years could be successful.

Reason for Selection

There were several reasons for my selection of this paper. It is Australian and is specific to my area of interest, which is middle years or junior secondary English. It gave me some answers for my questions about ACARA and provided some excellent references for further reading. This passes the Rheingold CRAP test as it is describing a part of an Australian Research Council project so it is reliable and authorative. It is current and the author is a Research Fellow in the School of Education at the University of South Australia.


This annotated bibliography and more items have been curated in Pearltrees. Click on the link below to access:



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