The Inquiry Hub partnership brings together Denver Public Schools (DPS), the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder), and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). Over the course of the partnership, some things have changed while other things have stayed the same. Throughout the different projects, there has always been a commitment to cooperative design, a focus on STEM curriculum, and using digital tools to support collaboration and the adaptation of curriculum. What's changed, primarily, is the nature of the curriculum work. Early work in Earth science focused on the implementation of a new curriculum purchased from a publisher. Later, work in Algebra 1 focused on adapting DPS's current textbook materials with high-quality supplemental materials. Starting in 2014, the focus of the partnership has shifted to the creation of new curriculum units for high school biology. Whatever the curricular focus of the work, the partnership has been able to adapt to the shared needs of the partnership.
In 2014, Inquiry Hub began work on designing a new, Next Generation Science Standards-aligned high school biology curriculum. With support from NSF, the project goal is not just to produce better curriculum, but to better understand how a network of partner organizations can come together to improve curriculum and instruction at scale. Bringing together DPS teachers, CU-Boulder researchers, UCAR engineers, and other collaborators like BSCS and national experts in science education and the learning sciences, Inquiry Hub is pushing the boundaries of how quality curriculum can be rapidly and flexibly co-designed and deployed in a large urban school district.
With support from NSF's Cyberlearning program, from 2012-2014 Inquiry Hub focused on adapting and supplementing DPS's Discovering Algebra curriculum with high-quality mathematical tasks that were both (a) aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and (b) suited to meet the needs of DPS's diverse population of learners. The first year of the work involved designing tools and processes for identifying rigorous, standards-aligned mathematical tasks, while the second year shifted towards developing supporting materials for implementing high-quality tasks. Over 40 tasks — most suitable for use over 1 or 2-day lessons — were rated for quality and added to the Curriculum Customization Service alongside digital versions of Discovering Algebra, providing Algebra 1 teachers district-wide with access to a focused selection of improved curriculum materials.