At school, I’m known by students in a variety of ways: One of the friendly librarians (at my school we are fortunate enough to have 2!), the teacher who got struck by lightning (true story), the guest speaker who reads picture books (Banned Book activities rock!), the sports enthusiast (I’m always ready to talk Kentucky basketball, college football, NFL or anything else for that matter), or sometimes it’s just Mrs. Hurley. To my daughter, I’m mom. To my husband, friends and colleagues, which now includes you, I’m Amanda. Thanks for checking out the 52 weeks of Guided Inquiry blog!
Since 2005, I’ve worked as a certified school librarian at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, KY, a school serving approximately 2,400 students in grades 9 through 12, with over 50 countries represented within the student body. HCHS is one of five high schools in our city.
I was first introduced to GID, the summer of 2014, when I participated in a book study with school librarians in our district. We read Guided Inquiry Design: a Framework for Inquiry In Your School and each of us were encouraged to invite a learning team to collaborate with throughout the study. While a handful of teachers at my school were interested in this approach, none wanted to spend their first weeks of summer vacation writing curriculum so I tried the best I could to merge the curriculum already in place with that of GID in the hope that once teachers returned in the fall, they’d utilize it. Out of this experience, I wrote my first attempt at a GID unit: The Election Process. While the PLC was appreciative of the unit modifications and implemented it in pieces, it wasn’t the truly collaborative process GID was intended to have.
During the spring of 2015, I was hired by the University of Kentucky to teach a summer graduate class entitled Current Trends in School Media Centers. I structured the class to first expose students to various trends in education and school libraries using the GID framework. I had an Open, Immerse and Explore activities for everyone. Students then identified inquiry questions, gathered sources, created a product, shared their presentation and evaluated themselves, others, and the learning process while focusing on individual trends they found most interesting. Having the [graduate] students experience GID first, better prepared them for what I did next, which was put them in the role of a school librarian to create a GID unit as if they were collaborating with classroom teachers. In this way, I was able to help them understand the role of the LMS isn’t to merely plan a unit in isolation (although this is sometimes the reality), it was to help the classroom teachers find resources to engage their students and be co-teachers and authentic collaborators together from start to finish. In writing and implementing this course, I had a lot of time to reflect on GID and how I can more effectively implement it within my school. More on this in a future post.
Fast forward now to November 2015. I had the privilege to attend a national school librarian conference for the first time ever. It was hosted by @AASL in Columbus, Ohio. It was there that I sat in on some GID presentations. Hearing real life practitioners talk and reflect on how they introduced GID in their schools encouraged me to not give up on this framework because it was working in so many other places. Most of the presenters shared units they’ve implemented from beginning to end and this was precisely what I was lacking – the real life stories I could take back to my colleagues and say, “Yes! Teachers really do implement these units! Yes, they deal with field trips and lack of common planning time too but it can really work! Let’s try again!” or “Look at this unit that someone shared at the AASL conference. Could these activities help us when we cover that unit next month?” Should you have the opportunity to attend a national conference in your area, I say go for it! As for me, I’m hooked and am already wondering how I’m going to get to Phoenix for AASL 2017!
Back in the trenches now, I’m constantly looking for ways to embed GID into my school. I wanted teachers to know how dedicated I was to helping them (as much or as little as they’d like) if they’d attempt this student-centered, inquiry-based design . In doing so, I am holding myself accountable by making it part of my teacher evaluation. In Kentucky, librarians each year must write Student Growth Goals (SGGs) or Impact Goals (a goal that impacts a program, system, or process that positively affects student growth) and are evaluated on the extent to which they meet their goal. My goal this year is centered around exposing teachers to Guided Inquiry Design, co-planning a unit or activities with them, and measuring the impact it has on both teachers and students. The number of teachers who have attempted GID activities and units has far exceeded my expectations and word is spreading of its value as teachers experience it. With interested colleagues in our building and a rock-star librarian (Mrs. White) with whom I work every day to shoulder the workload, we are seeing quite a positive response within our building. I only hope it continues to grow!
I’m excited about this opportunity to network with others interested in GID, how about you? Let’s start by expanding our PLC! Follow me on Twitter @HCHSLibrarian and come back to the blog later this week as I attempt to describe a high school math inquiry unit we implemented this fall. Until then, we can keep the conversation going on the blog using the comment section below.