Our Inquiry work is made possible through the generous support of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. 

Inquiry for All

"Inquiry is an approach to learning that involves a process of exploring the natural or material world, and that leads to asking questions, making discoveries, and testing those discoveries in the search for new understanding." - Exploratorium's Institute for Inquiry

At The New School of San Francisco, we teach children through inquiry arcs -- a series of student-driven investigations rooted in their questions, strengths and passions. We do it in a public school setting because we believe all children deserve access to deeper learning. An Inquiry Arc at our school lasts 6-8 weeks and has three phases.*

*inspired by the great inquiry work being done by our neighbors at Brightworks.


You can learn more about what it looks, sounds and feels like during each phase by watching our Story of an Inquiry Arc:


Are you a teacher or school leader who is ready to implement inquiry?

With the support of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and in partnership with the Exploratorium's Institute for Inquiry, our teachers have begun to develop shareable templates for inquiry planning. Join the #inquiryforall movement by bringing inquiry to your school.


What is the difference between inquiry and problem/project-based learning? 

In general, all three methods of teaching and learning are similar -- they're driven by teaching students in a way that develops deeper learning skills. However, they differ in how they get there:

  • Inquiry starts with questions and focuses on process.
  • Problem-based learning starts with a problem and focuses on a solution.
  • Project-based learning starts with a project and focuses on the product.

You can read more about these three styles of learning here

Do you teach Common Core Standards?

We do! As noted by the Hewlett Foundation, deeper learning starts with mastering core academic content. We see the Common Core Standards as a starting place and look to our students' questions and passions to guide where and how they want to go deeper. As you can see in our Scope and Sequence and Inquiry Arc Planning documents, we are thoughtful about incorporating standards from across content areas into our inquiry arc and bringing students inquiry work into other core content areas.