Brandon Hillier's Portfolio Page


About Me

Myself and my girlfriend of eight years at Thanksgiving, 2021. She is a physical education teacher in a district close to where I work. We graduated high school one year apart and have known each other our whole lives!

My name is Brandon Hillier and I teach Global 10 History and Geography and AP World History: Modern at Johnstown Jr./Sr. High School in Johnstown, NY. I graduated from Syracuse University in 2015 with a degree in Broadcasting and Digital Journalism, but after a few years of struggling to find local work in the broadcasting field, I turned to teaching and got another degree in Adolescent Education in Social Studies from the College of Saint Rose in 2020. I love integrating technology into my classroom and also like to bring history to life through different methods. I am in the CDIT program to learn of more methods of teaching and integrating technology into the classroom.

In addition to teaching and getting my master's right now, I am a massive sports nerd. I coach three sports during the school year: football, boys' basketball and softball. Some of my colleagues and friends think I'm crazy for doing so much, but continuing any personal growth takes time and effort, which I have plenty of now!

My Topic and Purpose

Intent of Project:

How-To Guide to Inquiry Design Model (IDM) for Social Studies Learning

The intent of this course is to take Social Studies educators through a step-by-step process to create an Inquiry Design Model (IDM) lesson plan for various Social Studies units and topics.

Topics that will be covered:

  • What is Inquiry Design Model (IDM) for Social Studies learning?
  • What are the steps involved in creating an IDM?
  • How do I implement the IDM in a Social Studies classroom?
  • How can I incorporate IDM in curriculum design/planning in a Social Studies classroom?

Scope of Learning Outcomes and Content

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this mini-course, learners will be able to:

  • Identify the required elements of the Inquiry Design Model (IDM)
  • Create an Inquiry Design Model lesson for a Social Studies Classroom
  • Implement the IDM into classroom instruction
  • Incorporate IDM into the overall curriculum design/planning in a Social Studies classroom
  • Identify and utilize resources to aid/support the development of IDM lessons in Social Studies

Needs Assessment

Instructional Problem:

In 2013, the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) introduced the College, Career and Civic Framework for State Social Studies Standards (C3 Framework), which shifted the focus of teaching social studies in the United States to cultivating learning centered around inquiry-based instruction (Cuenca, 2021). Among many other states in the U.S., the New York State Department of Education adopted and adapted the C3 Framework in 2014 with the release of the New York State K-12 Social Studies Framework (NYSED). In doing so, New York and many other states introduced inquiry-based instruction to the social studies teachers' toolkit. However, many teachers are not yet masters of the pedagogical change to inquiry-based instruction or the blueprint developed by Kathy Swan, John Lee and S.G. Grant: the Inquiry Design Model (IDM). Novice teachers, however, face the daunting task of developing IDM for implementation in their classrooms. The construction and development of IDMs can be time consuming, but are necessary in classrooms in states that are adopting the C3 Framework.

While there are resources available to select ready-made Inquiry Design Model lesson plans, individual teachers will implement their own pedagogical and content knowledge to each IDM lesson plan (Thacker et al., 2018). There are some individual topics or units of interest for individual teachers that do not have a ready-made IDM lesson plan. For example, there are few IDMs readily available for a vast majority of topics in New York State Global History and Geography II (10th grade). It then becomes necessary for teachers at different grade levels to learn to adapt or create the IDM lesson plan on their own, wherein lies the problem to be addressed here.

What is to be learned:

Through this mini-course, social studies educators will learn the basic steps to creating an Inquiry Design Modeled lesson on their own. The mini-course will give the foundational tools necessary to complete an IDM individually, while also giving social studies educators ample resources to use while creating their own IDM.

Misconception Disclaimer:

The Inquiry Design Model does not have to be a full-year curriculum design. IDMs work as full unit inquiries or single topic inquiries as well. A colleague teacher of mine adopted the IDM process to address singular topics throughout his United States History and Government Regents-level class. This teacher does an IDM unit/topic plan every two or three weeks rather than continuous implementation. The goal behind this mini-course is to supply social studies educators with the tools necessary to create a single IDM plan and use that knowledge to their own benefit in any way they choose to implement the IDM in their classroom.

For those ready-made IDMs and more information, there are resources at the bottom of this page.

Analysis of the Learner and Context

Targeted Audience

The Inquiry Design Model for Social Studies Instruction mini-course is targeted mainly for social studies educators in grade 5-12. However, learners from grades K-4 are more than welcome to utilize the information to implement into their social studies curriculum planning as well.

Analysis of Anticipated Learners

The range of age, technological ability, experience, and expertise among social studies educators in grades 5-12 will be vast. As a result, this course will be geared towards the widest range of learners as possible. In doing so, learners will be able to adapt the Inquiry Design Model to their own preferences for unit and lesson planning while still being able to create an effective Inquiry Design Model-based curriculum. Additional Resources will direct learners to further their professional growth and comfort-level using the IDMs and lessons will be multimedia formats to ensure learners of all ranges are effectively reached.

Performance-Based Objectives

By the end of this mini-course, learners will be able to:

  • Identify resources and blueprints (templates) for the Inquiry Design Model
  • Analyze and Evaluate an Inquiry Design Model lesson plan
  • Create an Inquiry Design Model lesson plan of their own

Task Analysis

Essential/Compelling Question: How do I create my own interesting Inquiry Design Model (IDM) lesson plan for Social Studies?

Unit 1 - Supporting Question 1: What is an Inquiry Design Model (IDM) Plan?

Unit 2 - Supporting Question 2: What are good compelling questions and supporting questions to use in an IDM?

Unit 3 - Supporting Question 3: What are formative performance tasks and featured sources in an IDM?

Unit 4 - Supporting Question 4: What are summative performance tasks in an IDM?

Summative Performance Task: Construct an Inquiry Design Model lesson plan using the template provided. Utilize the products from each of the formative performance tasks (answering the supporting questions) to fill in the IDM chart/lesson plan.

Curriculum Map

Mini-Course Link

Inquiry Design Model for Social Studies

References and Resources

External Links and Additional Resources:

New York State K-12 Social Studies Resource Toolkit

New York State Department of Education Social Studies K-12 Framework

College, Career and Civic Readiness Framework (C3) Website and Resources


Cuenca, A. (2021). Proposing Core Practices for Social Studies Teacher Education: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Inquiry-Based Lessons. Journal of Teacher Education, 72(3), 298+.

Thacker, E. S., Lee, J. K., Fitchett, P. G., & Journell, W. (2018). Secondary Social Studies Teachers’ Experiences Planning and Implementing Inquiry Using the Inquiry Design Model. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 91(4–5), 193–200.

Swan, K., Lee, J., & Grant, S. G. (2018). Inquiry Design Model: Building Inquiries in Social Studies. National Council for the Social Studies and C3 Teachers.