Understanding Goal Understanding Goal

Digital primary sources provide unique opportunities for students to ask questions and make discoveries.


Zoom-In Inquiry is often an introduction portion of a lesson. During this activity, students uncover a primary source image piece by piece in order to understand a big idea or theme related to curriculum standards. An investigative question starts the exploration and guiding questions focused on observation, interpretation, and evaluation follow as pieces of the image are revealed one at a time. Students use evidence and subject specific vocabulary to support their hypotheses. Students reflect on their understanding of the primary source and its relationship to "the big picture" or a large scale understanding that is overarching and essential to the subject. Finally, other related primary sources are presented that ask students to apply knowledge and understanding from the Zoom-In Inquiry to a new source or problem.


  1. Use the Directions to crop an image in PowerPoint.
  2. Use Creating Questions to create inquiry questions to guide students toward the "big picture". View an example set of questions used in the Nature Zoom-In.

Best Instructional Practices

Sample "Zoom-In Inquiry" (PowerPoint Files)

Subject Download PowerPoint File View Online Lesson Plan
Art Art by William Johnson Zoom-In (652 KB)  
Language Arts Zoom-In Letter (290 KB) Zoom-In Letter
Math Zoom-In Geometry (743 KB) Zoom-In Geometry
Math Zoom-In Geometry Architecture (464 KB) Zoom-In Geometry Architecture
Math Zoom-In Patterns and Geometry (1.31 MB) Zoom-In Patterns and Geometry
Science Zoom-In Nature (312 KB) Zoom-In Nature
Science Zoom-In Living Things (806 KB) Zoom-In Living Things
Social Studies Zoom-In Civil War (424 KB)  
Social Studies Zoom-In American History (360 KB) Zoom-In American History