Curriculum Materials and Courses

Multiple texts, close reading, analytical essays, and informational texts--it's what we do. We send smart practitioner-thinkers into your system, and collaborate with you to customize a plan that pairs professional development with materials aligned with Common Core. You’ll improve student learning in grades 4-12 with a move from lecture-based practices to student engagement.

When students are reading essays, poetry, magazine articles, graphic novels, novels, and research reports, they are learning to analyze and develop interpretations supported by the text.

Our materials and courses challenge students to test their thinking, hear what their peers have to say, and learn to express themselves in writing—lots of writing.


Curriculum materials

IBD curriculum materials have six key attributes:

Alignment to Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts: Careful text-based work with fiction, non-fiction, narrative, and non-narrative texts has always been the focus of Inquiry By Design.

Common units of study: Courses at each grade level feature common units that can be implemented alongside existing work in each building. Units are distinguished by cycles of work that emphasize close reading, ensure comprehension, and scaffold learning so that students can read texts of increasing complexity.

Challenging texts: ACT identified the ability to negotiate complex texts as the primary predictor of college-readiness. In our units, students work closely with difficult texts by classic and contemporary authors.

Student engagement: Small and whole group discussions and writing experiences prepare students to work with others and work on their own.

A progression of core assignments: Work with texts in a unit features comprehension tasks, interpretive assignments, and writing projects in which students write texts like the ones they are studying.

Writing intensive: Unit assignments ensure that students write a lot and that they write for reasons that are significant, useful, and meaningful.


We develop yearlong or supplementary courses from these three categories of materials:

Procedural (how-to) studies are about establishing context. These studies focus on essential rituals and routines, important ideas, or specific ways of working with texts.

Teachers build classroom cultures that introduce and amplify essential practices such as independent reading, independent writing, and text-based interpretive work.

Inquiry units for middle school students include studies of poets as different as Lauryn Hill, Luci Tapahonso, and Pablo Neruda. Students read essays by writers such as Annie Dillard and Eric Schlosser. They develop and test theories about reading nonfiction texts like detectives.

High school students consider bilingualism in essays by Martín Espada, Richard Rodriguez and Chang-Rae Lee; study documentary writing as a way to bear witness through work with Robert Coles and Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night; and use e.e. cummings’ idea of “being and unbeing” as a lens through which to consider work by very different American poets. Download a sample unit map.

Guidebooks address high-stakes issues in English language arts: errors in grammar and spelling; test preparation; working with syntax; and intensive vocabulary study.

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