This Moment:

Looking Back, Moving Forward

Critical Explorers

Online Seminar for Educators 

Details on the most recent Online Seminar are archived here.  Details on the most recent in-person workshop are also archived on this page (scroll down).  More information about the 2021 in-person workshop will be available in the spring.

Through collaborative analysis of primary sources, we’ll focus on selecting materials that illuminate pressing realities of our time — racism, poverty, and the pandemic — through the lens of history. We’ll create combinations of materials that support students in exploring and understanding interactions among racism, class, and economic systems.

As we articulate the questions and themes emerging from the combinations we consider and create, we’ll begin envisioning more extended explorations of one or more of those themes.

In a supportive online community, we’ll try out materials, activities, and assignments you can bring into your own physical and/or virtual classrooms to support students’ literacy and learning this fall and in the future!


Educators of grades 5-12 and beyond


Please email us at


Critical Explorers Summer Workshop for Educators

Explore, discover, and design
authentic learning experiences
at the 3-day workshop in August!

Information about the 2021 Summer Workshop will be available in the spring. Until then, details from the last in-person workshop are archived below for reference.

Critical Exploration is a distinctive teaching approach that powerfully supports both original inquiry and democratic conversation — all while engaging students in developing deep understandings of the subjects they study. Through CE, teachers bring students into direct contact with complex, thought-provoking materials, using time-tested techniques that encourage students to express their thoughts, continue thinking, and discover and pursue promising puzzles and questions. This transformative process expands students’ awareness of their own intellectual capacities while heightening teachers’ appreciation of their students’ potential.

This workshop, held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is designed to help participants stretch their understandings of critical exploration, whether you’ve practiced this approach or are encountering it for the first time. Together, we’ll examine concrete teaching strategies that will challenge your students, bolster their confidence, and enlarge their capacities to share and build on each other’s ideas. Through the Critical Explorers Summer Workshop, you’ll engage in, reflect on, and create activities, questions, and curriculum that inspire thoughtful and collaborative learning environments, and you’ll strengthen your teaching, whatever your previous experience.


K–12 teachers seeking to involve students in absorbing investigations and meaningful learning

K-12 curriculum coordinators and administrators seeking to promote student-centered curriculum design

University, college, and district teacher educators


Sessions each day with Eleanor Duckworth,
Professor Emerita, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Experience curriculum developed by Critical Explorers
in collaboration with teachers in public school classrooms this year

Join special discussion groups formed in response to your interests, with topics such as writing, assessment, and thematic and interdisciplinary curriculum

Share practical strategies for expanding and sustaining student investigations in your classroom, school, or district


Please email us at


“It was great to have a lesson presented that I will use all year. … I so appreciate this opportunity. I plan to be back. I plan to read your books, check in on your website, review a Piaget primer… Thank you.”
Kathryn Koontz, Stevenson School, Carmel, CA

“I think that we’re really building life-long learners – people who can think and speak and ask questions and be okay with not knowing the right answer right away . . . . This has changed not only the way that I teach but also the way that I learn, and I hope this for all teachers. I really think this is the best thing we could do for our kids.”
Lynette Goulet, Watertown Middle School, Watertown, MA

“Now, when I’m making my lessons I’m always thinking, what am I saying to students, and how can I expose my students’ thinking?”
Laszlo Bardos, Rivendell Academy, Fairlee, VT and Orford, NH

“Through Critical Explorers, kids learn the value of patience and deliberateness, and that really hit home for me a couple of years ago when I got the first group of students in my 9th grade course who had gone through the Critical Explorers program in 7th grade. I gave them something to do, and they really dug into it — to a degree that I had never seen before. And I knew it was because of their CE experience. I think that’s a great thing to be able to teach kids to do — to dig deep, and be thoughtful, and careful, and patient, as they wrestle with big ideas.”
Kraig Gustafson, History Coordinator, Watertown Public Schools, Watertown, MA

“My looking at the piece [in Steve Seidel’s session on looking at classroom work] felt like an ‘opening up’ process as opposed to the ‘narrowing’ feeling or process I sense when ‘correcting’ or typically ‘commenting’ on a student’s work.  The order of the steps encouraged wondering and, in the process — awe.”
Holly Turner, The Common School, Amherst, MA

“When a veteran teacher comes to me and says, ‘You know, I’ve been through a lot of professional development activities before and this one really hit home for me, it really resonated with me,’ you have to give the teachers a chance to explore that as much as they can.”
Kimo Carter, Principal, Watertown Middle School, Watertown, MA

“What if we were doing this from year to year, from grade to grade, every teacher approaching it from their own context, their own curricular perspective as we went along, what would that do over time for the thinking of our students?”
Gordon Christie-Maples, Samuel Morey Elementary School, Fairlee, VT and Orford, NH