Tools to support inquiry

There is an enormous range of Web 2.0 tools supporting inquiry learning. The following selected range may be useful in your library or classroom.


Professional development: tools for building your Web 2.0 skills
Web 2.0 tools in the information skills process
Tools to help students with online searching
Online tools to help students explore, create and present
Crafting good questions

Professional development: tools for building your Web 2.0 skills

There is an enormous range of Web 2.0 tools supporting 21st Century literacy and Inquiry, and the following selection merely scratches the surface. This selection is not designed to be comprehensive, but we hope you can find some useful tools to use in your library or classroom.

Do contact us (using feedback button on left navigation bar) if you have a favourite online tool that supports Inquiry, which you think we should include here, and tell us why you’ve found it useful.

Joyce Valenza's Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians issues thought-provoking challenges under various headings, beginning: "You know you're a 21st Century school library if..." To access this, go into  Resources for School Librarians: Web 2.0 in school libraries and scroll down the first section to the link to the Manifesto. You will find links to many other useful sources of Web 2.0 related information on this site.

Web 2.0 tools in the information skills process


The NSW Dept of Education, Centre for Learning Innovation, has a recently updated page for teachers entitled Web 2.0 tools in the Information skills process. Although the content is organised under their 6-step Information Literacy model, the hyperlinks under each stage would be really useful for teachers and students in New Zealand schools.

On the NSW Department of Education and Training website, an interactive diagram under the heading, School libraries and information literacy - Information skills in the school, gives a graphical presentation of the inquiry cycle, with pop-out boxes explaining each stage.

For instance, in the 'Presenting' stage, appropriate Web 2.0 tools are hyperlinked to enable students' creativity to flourish.  One click brings you to tools that enable students to create a collage, a drawing, a flip book animation, a screen recording, a slideshow, an online survey, a diagram, build a free website, create a cartoon strip or an interactive web comic, and more.

Tools to help students with online searching

DuckDuckGo: offers a clean simple interface and visually appealing search screen, with results aimed at a young audience.

Yahoo Kids is a directory of kid-friendly Internet sites (formerly Yahooligans), carefully checked by an experienced educator to ensure the content and links are appropriate for kids aged 7-12. It includes homework help, Ask Earl (where kids' questions will be answered), video clips, an appealing range of multimedia information, as well as entertainment.

The American Library Association's portal, Great Web Sites for Kids, offers a wide range of online information sources, organised under broad topic headings.

If your school subscribes to SCIS (Schools Catalogue Information Service) you will have access to a huge range of websites that have been vetted for educational use.  SCIS provides catalogue records for websites, but their SCISWeb database also allows subscribers to browse for websites by topic - a very useful source of sites to support Inquiry.

Online tools to help students explore, create and present

AASL's 2011 Top 25 Websites for teaching and learning: Based on nominations and feedback from US school librarians, the list presents the American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) top Internet sites for enhancing learning and curriculum development, with a focus on fostering innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration.  Sites are free and user-friendly.

Web 2.0: Cool tools for schools: This wiki has a huge range of Web 2.0 tools for teachers, librarians and students. Under Research Tools, for example, are:

  • lists of search engines, including a visual search engine (Spezify)
  • Research Resources, which include online documentaries, videos, photographs, and some subject-specific sources
  • Asking Questions
  • ‘How-to’ videos and tutorials, and other tools.

Check out the Writing Tools, which includes:

  • Comic Strip Makers
  • Writing tools, Dictionary & Grammar tools
  • Quoting and Referencing Tools

Quiz & Poll Tools includes a list of Poll and Survey Tools – great for teachers or librarians to use for simple online surveys.

This falls within the ColoradoLearns: Envision Next Generation Learning wiki, which aims to help educators define powerful learning, share resources and provide collaborative support. You will find lots of information and resources on this wiki, as participants explore the ‘how’ of 21st Century learning.

Crafting good questions

How to empower students to ask questions and care about answers by Carol Koechlin and Sandi Zwaan (2006)

“The art of crafting good questions is key to both teaching and learning. Being able to create probing questions empowers both teachers and students. Questioning is a lifelong learning skill that is critical for success in the 21st century. ” Sections of this book are available online, on Google books.

Blue questionmark

QAR framework: Question-Answer Relationship (DOC)
The QAR model proposed by Doiron and Asselin (2005) scaffolds a student’s interaction with text (whether print or online) to categorise the possible information sources they’ll need to answer their research question. The authors describe four categories of questions:

  1. Right There questions: The answer is easily found in the text.
  2. Think and Search questions: The answer is in the text, but the words may not be found in the same sentence.
  3. Author and You questions: The answer is found by putting together what you know with what you read in the text.
  4. On Your Own questions: The answer is not in the text. The answer will come from your own experience and knowledge. Doiron, Ray & Asselin, Marlene eds. (2005). Literacy libraries and learning. Pembroke Publishers, p.70-71.

Here is an example of a simple Question Builder Chart (DOC) to help turn basic level questions into higher level questions.

image by qthomasbower
image by lrargerich

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