Inquiry, Research & Investigations in Social Studies (IRISS) is an interdistrict program developed and managed by the Professional Development and School Improvement (PDSI) department at ACES. It was designed to encourage students to investigate primary sources, conduct research to answer compelling questions, and to take informed action. Participating students and teachers collaborate both in person and through video conferencing to complete research tasks that encompass diverse themes and help students master standards outlined in the CT Social Studies Frameworks.

Using innovative video conferencing technology, students can share knowledge and resources, and bridge economic and cultural divides. This experience gives students opportunities to develop 21st century skills such as digital literacy, creativity, and critical thinking, while developing a deeper understanding of the research process and the diverse perspective of others.

Students will read a variety of primary and secondary source documents, and work together to answer research questions. Students will meet dimension 4 of the CT Social Studies Frameworks (Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Action) by choosing to complete a project of their own design. The grant culminates in partner school celebrations that include parents and community members. Through the natural progression of the collaborative process, students begin to appreciate the worldview and perceptions of others based on their diverse cultural identities.

Teachers participate in workshops at ACES and receive embedded on-site coaching on topics such as culturally responsive teaching strategies, lesson planning, the CT Social Studies Framework, inquiry-based learning, the writing process, and effective technology integration. In order to facilitate frequent interactions among students, participating classrooms receive appropriate video conferencing equipment and Schoology accounts (online course management system) for communication and resource sharing. Funding is available for transportation, field trips and fees for video-conferencing with experts such as authors, civic leaders, curators, and others. Curriculum materials such as texts, documents, journals, software and other materials to support and enhance instruction are available to the participants. Funding for activities that encourage parental involvement is also available.

For more information, contact Jennifer Murrihy, ACES Education Specialist, at