The Great Books Foundation’s Shared Inquiry™ training courses empower teachers to use outstanding literature and authentic questioning to increase student learning. Students who participate in Junior Great Books® programs learn to read for deeper comprehension, think critically, speak with confidence, listen to others, and express their evidence-based interpretations in writing. Teachers learn effective strategies to engage and inspire all students, and see how to use those strategies throughout the curriculum.

Whether you are an educator trained in the Shared Inquiry method looking to refresh or expand your skills, or you are new to the method and are interested in implementing Junior Great Books in the classroom—or just learning more about the program—we have the perfect summer training for you!

Young handsome man using laptop computer, taking notes, training online.

Introductory Training and Shared Inquiry Overview

Shared Inquiry Essentials Online Training

July 19–21, 2022 • 10:00 a.m.–noon central time • Register

This course prepares you to begin using the Shared Inquiry method of learning with students at any grade level. You will learn how to:

  • Activate students’ curiosity and help them ask questions about a text
  • Write interpretive questions that support text-centered discussions
  • Use follow-up questions to deepen students’ thinking
  • Conduct activities that enable all students to engage in higher-level thinking about a text
  • Align Junior Great Books activities with commonly used learning standards
  • Integrate writing throughout the reading process

The first six hours of the course are taught in three two-hour live webinars. The remainder of the course is asynchronous and includes in-depth exploration of key activities and strategies and a choice of grade-level paths. This online module is self-paced and takes about four hours to complete.

An Overview of Shared Inquiry

July 13, 2022 • noon–1:00 p.m. central time • Register
July 27, 2022 • noon–1:00 p.m. central time • Register

Join us to experience firsthand how we engage students of all ages in critical thinking, active listening, and thoughtful analysis through our inquiry-based method of learning. In schools that use our method and materials, students learn how to:

  • Consider important ideas
  • Find their voice
  • Develop a deep understanding of complex texts

In this introductory session, you will actively engage in the core Shared Inquiry activities, including a brief Shared Inquiry discussion of a rich text. You will also learn about the Great Books Foundation’s history and mission as a nonprofit, our proven professional development, and our thought-provoking fiction and nonfiction classroom materials.

Please note: This overview is a demonstration of Shared Inquiry only. It does not prepare you to lead Junior Great Books in the classroom.

Intermediate and Advanced Courses

The Power of Student Questions

July 21, 2022 • 2:00–4:00 p.m. central time • Register

This course will help you teach students how to articulate and share questions, identify different kinds of questions, and focus on the questions that will best help them build their understanding of a selection. You will learn how to activate students’ initial curiosity about a specific text and guide them to become active partners in inquiry. The process begins with the sharing questions activity and can lead to students helping to choose effective questions for Shared Inquiry discussion and for expository writing or research after discussion.

After this course, you will be able to:

  • Help students express their initial reactions to a text in the form of questions
  • Teach students how to recognize different kinds of questions
  • Use the power of student questions to engage the class in exploring answers and sharing their ideas, both during discussion and in writing

Shared Inquiry Advanced Review

July 18, 2022 • 2:00–4:00 p.m. central time • Register

This course reviews the essential elements of a Shared Inquiry discussion and the Great Books interpretive reading activities that enable students at all levels to participate successfully in higher-level thinking with challenging texts. Participants engage in the Shared Inquiry sequence of activities and an instructor-led discussion (or observe a video of a student discussion). After this course you will be able to:

  • Conduct Shared Inquiry activities
  • Set up and lead Shared Inquiry discussion
  • Use follow-up questions to deepen students’ thinking
  • Align Junior Great Books skills with relevant standards

If it’s been a while since you took a Great Books training course, or if you’re returning to teaching Junior Great Books after some time away, this course is perfect for you!

Implementing Junior Great Books Nonfiction Inquiry

July 20, 2022 • 2:00–4:00 p.m. central time • Register

This course introduces the Shared Inquiry method of reading and discussion and includes an interactive, hands-on demonstration of Nonfiction Inquiry reading strategies and discussion. After this course you will be able to:

  • Conduct the Nonfiction Inquiry sequence of activities
  • Set up and lead Shared Inquiry discussion using Nonfiction Inquiry texts
  • Plan a Nonfiction Inquiry implementation that fits your goals

You will receive Nonfiction Inquiry sample lesson plans and a PDF highlighting key classroom strategies.

Interpretive Thinking for Grades K–1

July 19, 2022 • 2:00–4:00 p.m. central time • Register

This course will help you introduce the basic principles of Shared Inquiry—listening, wondering, and sharing—to students in the primary grades. Learn how to provide the challenge and critical thinking elements every balanced literacy program needs with practical strategies for helping young students follow a story, ask questions, make relevant comments, and give reasons for their ideas. You will explore ways to use simple forms of discussion, drama, drawing, and writing to help students connect with a story and begin thinking interpretively about it.

After this course, you will be able to:

  • Help students in grades K–1 begin to respond interpretively to a story
  • Engage students in listening, asking questions, and sharing ideas with classmates
  • Use the Junior Great Books K–1 program to engage all students in higher literacy and inquiry
  • Plan a Shared Inquiry unit with strategies and activities tailored to your students’ needs

Want to Learn More?

If you’d like to learn more about any of these courses, or would like to set up custom training for your school or district, please contact your K–12 partnership manager. We can deliver any combination of introductory training, intermediate courses, and custom consultations to meet your needs!