Collaborative inquiry groups are a well-advocated tool to support comprehension and collaboration, but how do critical collaborative inquiries support students with different levels of engagement and academic performances in social studies to develop critical literacies? This article responds to the research question through case studies of two high school students who engaged in a critical collaborative inquiry project. One student was a senior labeled with disabilities, who struggled with academic literacies, graduated at the bottom of her class, and said that she hates school. The other student was a junior who thrived in school, mastered a range of academic literacies, graduated near the top of her class, and felt very engaged in school. These students were part of an elective social studies class open to all students in grades 9-12 taught with a negotiated curriculum that centered on individual and critical collaborative inquiry projects.