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National School Library of the Year Application 2021: Inquire

This is the electronic portfolio for the National School Library of the Year application for 2021 for Calvert County Public Schools.


INQUIRE: Build new knowledge by inquiring, thinking critically, identifying problems, and developing strategies for solving problems.

Systematic Inquiry Process

Students on a Zoom screen excited about learning about sharks

image: Students excited to research sharks during a virtual library lesson


Calvert County Public Schools has adopted the Big 6 model for research and the inquiry process.  In grades kindergarten - three, students are introduced to the Super 3. 

Our elementary curriculum embeds research skills into each of our four curriculum resources.  In our Reading, Literature, and Community units, students in kindergarten through grade 2, participate in an author study and explore the works of Donald Crews, Ann Jonas, and Nina Crews.  What makes this research project so special is that students are researching a family of authors, and reading books by a family of authors.  Students utilize Wixie to share what they have learned and publish their works.  In addition to this project, students in grades 3-5 explore and research an author and participate in an inquiry process on a particular author.  Our inquiry experiences continue by focusing on lessons from the book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books.  School librarians use picture books and continue the inquiry process while utilizing this resource. 

Our lesson scope and sequence which is linked below shows our commitment to the inquiry process across the entire curriculum.  We are in the process of working through our first year of our brand new Inquiry, Exploration and Research curriculum as part of our two year roll out of curriculum which utilizes the National School Library Standards and the Social Justice Standards. 

Scope and Sequence Elementary

Inquiry, Exploration and Research Curriculum Framework

Middle and High School

Our middle and high school libraries work collaboratively with content area teachers to provide quality research and inquiry instruction.  Often, our school librarians partner with Social Studies or English Language Arts teachers for in depth inquiry projects.  

Here are some examples of inquiry projects that have taken place in our middle schools and high schools in the past few years. 

History Fair

Students in middle and high school participate in National History Day yearly.  The school librarians are experts in guiding research, teaching Noodletools and providing support. They collaborate with social studies teachers across the district for these months long projects. CCPS also collaborates with the public library to provide additional support for students and has also collaborated with the State Library Resource Center and Enoch Pratt Library who also work with our students.

Everyday Inquiry

Our middle and high school librarians collaborate with teachers on a regular basis to provide opportunities for inquiry! At any given time, school librarians can be found in classrooms or in the library working in conjunction with teachers to encourage creativity, excitement for digging into topics, and learning about the world.  

Environment of Inquiry

Our love of inquiry is evident in all we do.  Starting in kindergarten, we introduce our students to the research process and the use of Pebble Go as a first database.  We continue inquiry throughout the experiences throughout all the grades.  Students entering the workforce or college at the end of their tenure in CCPS are well poised to do college level research, understand how to use databases, and have an embedded knowledge of citations and creation of a multitude of products.


We assess our success with the inquiry process in multiple ways. The first way is the collaboration between classroom teacher and school librarian.  We keep track of our collaborations and the number of collaborations for inquiry we provide.  Teachers assess the students on their product and collaborate with the librarian on the process for assessment.  We also assess the growth of our students throughout K-5 by building on what they know and what they learn.  We use exit tickets and products.


exploring history fair topics

Image: Students at Calvert Middle explore topics for history fair.  Mr. Embrey travels to the classroom.

students using inquiry skills

Image: Students putting their inquiry skills to work to solve a problem.

family finding a scavenger hunt book

Image: This family used their inquiry skills to find a scavenger hunt book from Beach Elementary.

bulletin board of inquiry

Image: An inquiry bulletin board - how good are your inquiry skills?

students chatting with Maryland's Ask Us Now

Image: Students inquiring with Ask Us Now, learning how to use MD's Virtual Librarians

students researching on site for the Korean War at Veteran's cemetary

Image: School Librarian and history teacher collaborate bringing students to the Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C. for some on the spot history lessons and research about the Korean War.

park ranger and dr sanchez

Image: Dr. Sanchez, school librarian brings a National Park Ranger in to introduce her 4th graders to the National Parks.

students researchign national parks

Image: Students researching National Parks!

students creating a presentation

Image: Students create a presentation after doing inquiry on a country in elementary school.

real world exploration

Image: Mr. Embrey shares his love of Medieval times as students get set to inquire about history.

Students researching

Image: Students researching topics in the library computer lab using our CCPS databases.

student with scavenger hunt book

student with scavenger hunt book

Image: Librarian Casey Grenier set up a book finding scavenger hunt in her neighborhood school town. Students used the inquiry process to follow clues and find well hidden books!  Pandemic inquiry! Safe, socially distanced inquiry.

inquiry on women's history

Image: Students at BAES using inquiry skills to learn about Women's History.

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