“I’m Not a Teacher, I’m an Awakener!” Greetings from Massachusetts!

Happy Spring!  My name is Kathleen Stoker and I am an English/Journalism teacher at Westborough High School in Westborough, MA.  I have been teaching high school and college students for twenty years–four years in New Hampshire and the past sixteen years in MA.  I currently teach Journalism I and II, sophomore English, and a senior seminar.  And oh my gosh, where does the time go? And yet, after all these years in the classroom,  I still find it refreshing that I continually am inspired by colleagues who continue to dig deep in their classrooms for ways to motivate and engage students in the learning process.

Early on in my teaching career, I read a quote by Robert Frost that has remained at the heart of my teaching–“I am not a teacher. I am an awakener.”  Of course I teach my students many things–but at the center of my teaching is my goal to awaken my students to their passions, interests, curiosity, skills, multiple intelligences–the list goes on.  And that is where Guided Inquiry Design comes in…

Two summer ago, my school’s amazing librarian educator Anita Cellucci (@librarywhs) was providing me research support for a senior seminar I teach called Psychology in Literature.  Anita asked me if I had heard of GID because she thought GID would work perfectly with the type of research I was asking my students to conduct.  She took the time to conference with me by providing an overview of the process. She then shared her copy of Guided Inquiry Learning in the 21st Century by Carol C. Kuhlthau, Leslie K. Maniotes, and Ann K. Caspari.  Before I knew it, I was hooked.

There are many many reasons why I am interested in GID; however, for this first post I will highlight my top two reasons.  The first one is Kuhlthau’s Model of the Information Search Process.  I don’t think I had ever read about a research process in which the educators connected the research steps to students’ feelings in the process.  When I studied the model I felt a great sense of validation. Here’s why:  for a good part of my teaching career, I have had to spend time proving to some colleagues the importance of teaching, observing, and acknowledging emotional and social knowledge, intelligence and skills in our students.  Students actually feel many emotions in their learning process–let alone the research process.  To see the work of Kuhlthau, Maniotes, and Caspari was not only refreshing, it was life-changing for me as a teacher.  I could now offer my students a vocabulary in which we could communicate back and forth how they were feeling.  For example, often students feel confused and frustrated when they are exploring sources to answer their GI question(s).  To be able to validate students’ feelings by saying these feelings are normal helped the students stay with the process versus in previous experiences students may have quit, started over, or attempted to plagiarize as an escape from the challenges of the assignment.

I then asked Anita to help me implement GID with my Psychology in Literature students the following year.  But wouldn’t you know, later that month, Anita shared with me that her application for a team of educators from our school to study at the GID summer institute was accepted!  Later that summer, Anita, a science teacher, our assistant principal, and I drove down to Rutgers University for an intense study of GID with Kuhlthau, Maniotes, and Caspari.  The professional development opportunity was amazing!  We ourselves went through the GID, step by step.  We were able to work on our GID curriculum to take back to our schools.

The second reason that drew me to GID was the awareness of third space.  “In order for students to be able to create understandings of their own, educators must bargain by listening to them” (29).  Third space is an equal interaction of personal experience and curriculum content.  Often at the high school level, our focus is strictly curriculum with little recognition of “the students’ world as first space.”  I have had many a conversation with colleagues arguing that yes, curriculum is important, but the students’ world is equally valid.  How can I expect a student to fully access the curriculum if I am not acknowledging the experiences or non-experiences with which my student is living?

For example, this past semester one of my seniors named Michael chose to conduct his Guided Inquiry research on addiction.   It was an emotional journey for Michael because he shared early on in the journaling portion of the immerse step that he had a couple of close family members who were addicts.  GID gave Michael permission to move through the steps with fluidity, adaptability, and support.  When Michael got “stuck” in the gather phase, Anita and I could offer him support.  The reason he got stuck in the gathering phase of his research on addiction was because he was learning all about the symptoms and effects.  This knowledge was bringing up a lot of emotions and personal experience.  Fortunately, Michael was ready to face therapeutically his personal experiences and he asked if I would connect him with our school adjustment counselor.  The GID process worked for Michael because he was able to access the curriculum while acknowledging his very personal experience.  Anita and I were so grateful that we could support Michael through the research to the level that he was ready to ask for help.

So as shared earlier in my post, awakening students’ minds and hearts are very important to me.  GID provides a vehicle for educators to awaken their students in one of the best ways possible–by acknowledging students’ feelings, thoughts, and experiences while interacting with the curriculum.

Kathleen Stoker

Question Everything

“The answers you have are only as good as the questions you’ve asked.” –Rebecca Trotter

    Throughout all of my experience with Guided Inquiry, I have faced one recurring problem. Questions. How do I teach my students to craft quality questions? How do I teach my students think for themselves? How do I help my students appreciate controlling their own learning?

    I have a feeling that if I were to discover the answer to this question, I would be able to retire on my private island. Really it’s more than one question, but like lions and tigers and bears, they seem to be inseparable. In order to teach my students to craft quality questions, I need to teach them to think for themselves, but in order to think for themselves, they need to control their own learning…. Yikes.  

    This isn’t a problem that I face alone. When Dana and I returned from CiSSL, we trained several other teachers in the full Guided Inquiry Design process. We continue to work with new teachers and, frankly, anyone who will listen about the importance of inquiry. Even when we cannot take a teaching unit through the full GID process, we keep inquiry at the heart of our teaching. We are working to create students who question rather than absorb information.

    The magic happens when we create that third space where the students realize the importance of the learning in their own lives. When the classroom and life cross over and become one. That’s when our students truly begin to question. In order to get there, we have to move our students beyond looking to us to give them topics and ideas to pursue. They must come to those ideas on their own because they are the ideas that matter to the students.

    Some of our students go there immediately. They come with ideas that need tweaked into questions. Others ask, “What should I do?” Not only do they not have a question, they aren’t sure where to start. Sometimes it takes longer to change the philosophy of our students than it does to change the philosophy of our teachers.

    Eventually, our students will see that, in the words of Thomas Berger, “The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” Crafting quality questions can improve not only education but life. Guided Inquiry isn’t just for the classroom; it is for all of us. In fact, my new philosophy is Question Everything.

 

Jennifer Danner

@MrsDanner_JA

English Department Chair

Jonathan Alder High School

Plain City, Ohio

Taking Chances

“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.” –Albert Camus

     No longer under the yoke of Senior Project, we found ourselves with massive gaps in the curriculum. For the first time ever, I was not the only one teaching senior English, so Stephanie Tinberg (first-year teacher) and I sat down to discuss how we would most like to teach the standards left dangling by the hasty departure of Senior Project. It didn’t take us long to brainstorm a diverse list of activities/assignments/texts that would make fantastic additions to the curriculum. At the heart of all of our ideas was Guided Inquiry.

     In an attempt to expand the worldview of our students, Stephanie and I decided to experiment with a new genre: the podcast. Stephanie introduced me to the Serial Podcast produced by This American Life and hosted by Sarah Koenig. The podcast explores the case of a young man convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend. Seeing the story of a 17-year-old who had actually been tried for and convicted of murder was eye-opening. More impactful than a man their age going to prison was the reality that he may have been wrongly convicted. Koenig follows the information from the case and conducts her own investigation as she attempts to discover what actually happened that January day in 1999.

     Sometimes in life, everything aligns to create a teachable moment like no other. Serial provided exactly that moment. Adnan Syed’s case was back in the news as we studied it. Because of new evidence unearthed by the podcast and a follow up podcast titled Undisclosed, Syed had petitioned for a post conviction hearing. It was granted. As we finished listening to the podcast in class, the actual young man from the story, now in his thirties, went back to court to possibly receive a new trial. The students were riveted as they watched this actually play out on the news and social media. The outcome of the hearing has yet to be determined, but students ask almost daily if there are any updates.

     Guided Inquiry provided the perfect approach for students to explore this case and what it revealed about humanity, the justice system, and the idea of right and wrong. Students used the Guided Inquiry framework to conduct their own investigations into nearly every facet of the case. Because so many groups have worked on Syed’s behalf to uncover the truth, many of the primary documents from the case are available online including police reports, autopsy reports, police notes, depositions, and even evidence photos. We invited lawyers into the classroom to discuss what elements are required to craft a reliable defense. We invited the numerous teachers around the building who had also followed the podcast to join us as a Serial Support Group for students to discuss their theories and frustrations. Our ultimate goal was to share our findings in a sort of “closing argument” style presentation complete with an evidence board that allowed students to take their audience through their investigations and evidence.   

     When I spoke with my students upon completion of the project, I was surprised by their reactions. For the first time in my seventeen-year teaching career, my students declared that they wished they could have done MORE research. MORE! They wished they could have worked in small, supportive groups to go deeper into different elements of the case. They wanted real answers from this real experience. Eventually, a judge in a Baltimore courtroom will supply those answers. Now, we are at his mercy.

     Our new focus on Guided Inquiry provided a chance to change for the better. We don’t practice it perfectly yet, but we are getting better with each new teaching unit. Our reflection is key to improving our teaching, but reflecting with our students has also proven to provide immeasurable growth. Most of our students appreciate our attempts to approach learning in new ways and also appreciate the opportunity to shape how that learning takes place in the classroom. Others are surprisingly fearful of new strategies and the freedom that comes with change.

    

Jennifer Danner

@MrsDanner_JA

English Department Chair

Jonathan Alder High School

Plain City, Ohio

Finding a Solution

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

–Socrates

 

     My adventure into Guided Inquiry Design began as all good adventures should, with a close friend and a road trip. It really started with desperation. The desperation led to the road trip….

     A few years ago, our school district required a senior capstone known as Senior Project. I was struggling to help seniors find their way and develop their projects to the fullest. Of course, I took my struggles to my teacher-librarian Dana Wright. Since she had been essentially co-teaching the project with me, she was well aware of the issues I was facing. Dana and I have always been on the same page and look at teaching in much the same way, so it was no surprise the day I walked into the library with an exciting new idea only to find Dana waiting to share her exciting new idea. Both of our exciting new ideas were the same. Guided Inquiry.

     Jonathan Alder Local Schools is small and is known for turning nothing into something because of our low expenditure per student. We are about 20 minutes northwest of Columbus, Ohio, in the small farming community of Plain City. When Dana stumbled across the information on the CiSSL Summer Institute. Our district agreed to send us, and the road trip began. Dana and I drove from Plain City to New Jersey for a new beginning.

     Guided Inquiry was a natural fit for us. We saw immediately that we were rushing the research process. Our students were developing questions (Identify) and fast-forwarding to research (Gather) and fast-forwarding again to writing/presentation (Create/Share). We left no time for developing interests or exploring options. Once we adjusted to allow for a fully developed Guided Inquiry Design approach to Senior Project, so many of the struggles vanished. The depth and quality of student growth improved significantly. What we did not realize at the time was that Senior Project would soon be a memory. Another new beginning was coming.

     Now we come to the current school year. This school year arrived with a new building principal and a new state mandate known as College Credit Plus. CC+ requires strict adherence to a state-wide set of standards for Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment classes. Mike Aurin (our new leader), Ann (guidance), and I sat down to discuss the impact of the new requirements on Senior Project and our other curricula. To proceed with students’ best interests in mind, we needed to remove the Senior Project requirements from the English curriculum.

     At first it was a shock. Senior Project was an institution. It’s what we did. That’s when I realized that it was no longer what we HAD to do. We no longer had to “[fight] the old.” We could now “[build] the new.”

Jennifer Danner

@MrsDanner_JA

English Department Chair

Jonathan Alder High School

Plain City, Ohio

 

Final thoughts from Connecticut

Challenges

Right now, there are some challenges that I hope to work on over the next year or two.

First, my schedule is a fixed schedule, meaning that all my classes come one time per week for 45 minutes, without their teacher. I do have a few blocks that are free and I use those for collaboration whenever possible. Also, because I am in one school 3 days a week and the other school 2 days, I often miss team meetings, etc. because I am simply in the wrong building that day. This makes collaborating more difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.

Some teachers and I have really worked to make collaboration work. We have planned together (sometimes electronically), had me start a unit in the library, they take it from there in their classroom, and back and forth until it is completed. Sometimes we have been able to use my free blocks together and then doing different parts in library and in the classroom. At other times, our tech integration specialist has started the unit in the classroom and then worked with the students and me in the library. It’s really helpful to have one person who can be in both places. This spring, our technology teacher and I are working together, so that I am doing the first phases and he will help students with the sharing part. We enjoy a challenge! But I have frequently talked with my administrators about moving to a flex schedule that would allow for better collaboration and student learning.

A flex schedule would also eliminate the problem I often have of seeing classes only once per week. This makes it very difficult for students to really maintain a focus on what they are learning. Instead, I would love the ability to meet with a class every day (or similar) until the project is completed. Sometimes, like last year when I missed 7 Mondays in a row due to snow days and holidays, I have classes that simply miss entire projects. Again, not impossible, but difficult.

Working with my K-2 students, another challenge is simply that many cannot read or write very well yet. Technology has provided many work-arounds, such as using PebbleGo or Worldbook which will read aloud to them, using pictures and having me dictate their words, and our latest love – Seesaw.me which allows students to type or draw a picture and then record their thoughts. I do want to be sure that they are having a balance of using both print/paper and technology, so that is constantly on my mind.

 

Further wonderings

Makerspaces and STE(A)M are very much a part of many librarian conversations these days. I very much want to carefully consider how Guided Inquiry Design can support student learning.

In addition, with the new NGSS and Social Studies standards being adopted, our curriculum director and the rest of our technology and information literacy specialists are looking to see how GID complements them.

Finally, I wouldn’t be a librarian if I didn’t talk a little about the books to use! This morning on twitter, the post was about a 2nd grade teacher’s Top 10 Picture Books to Introduce Units of Study, and I thought, “How perfect!” There are some books that just beg to be used to get kids thinking. Curating lists of books like this is another way that I can help get an inquiry unit off to a terrific start!

It has been such a pleasure reflecting on my own learning and work with Guided Inquiry Design this week. I am very much looking forward to reading the future posts! I will be attending CISSL summer institute this summer with a team of teachers (woo hoo!) and am thrilled to be able to really dig deeper myself into GID and how to create the best learning opportunities for my elementary students.

Many thanks —

Jenny

Starting Small

This year has been a learning year for me in regards to Guided Inquiry Design. Throughout this year, I have been trying out the beginning phases, Open, Immerse, and Explore. I am certainly not doing them perfectly, but I felt that this year it was important to begin to try. I used to get very stressed out that my primary students were not completing whole projects. In the last year or so (thank you CCSS), I have stepped back and instead, tried to include lots of smaller opportunities for using different parts of the research/inquiry process. I am going to share some of these throughout this post.

In October, as part of their study of mammals, my first graders and I read a fiction story about a bear and students began to wonder about whether bears would actually do the things written about in the story. I’m not sure if this is OPEN or IMMERSE, but either way, it got us thinking. We took time to think about what they already knew about bears. First graders think they know a lot. Bears eat people, hibernate, eat fish, eat berries, have brown fur, that sort of thing. It was amazing that once we got some of the basics out of the way, they were ready to learn more.

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Next we spent a lot of time looking at lots and lots of print books and digital resources such as PebbleGo and WorldBook Online to learn more (EXPLORE). After each library time, we added new questions to a class list. Take a look at some of the types of questions that these 6 year olds had now! I believe that taking the time to let students do this kind of learning led to much deeper thinking and questioning.

During another 1st grade lesson, I was interested in the students’ ability to generate questions about a topic. I showed a quick Youtube clip of Bugs Bunny and the Tasmanian Devil. This added a little humor to the lesson! I then asked the kids what did they wonder about Tasmanian Devils? I collected their responses via a Google form (I did the typing). Questions had a wide range (What do they eat? and What color are they really? to Do they really look that angry in real life? and Why are they so weird?) I was only using this as a quick assessment, so we did not take it any further, but I can imagine that the questions would get better and more in-depth if we had spent time in the EXPLORE phase.

A favorite book I like to read with Kindergarteners around this time of year is Possum and the Peeper by Anne Hunter which is about a spring peeper frog who is making a LOT of noise. They are astounded to find out at the end that it is such a tiny little animal which is making a gigantic noise! This is a perfect way to IMMERSE students as they begin to think about the new season of spring and the changes that happen in the world around them and to the animals living in those habitats. Once we read the book, I begin to use a variety of resources to build more background knowledge. Nationalgeographic.com has a terrific section on spring peepers, complete with the sound it makes! It also has photographs of the peeper next to a paperclip. I feel that connecting these 5 year olds with things they can relate to is so important. A goal I have this year is to try and use inquiry circles by having the students choose an animal from the spring peeper book to find out more about.

While not a phase of GID, another activity that I have done this year with the Ks is based on an idea from Daniels and Harvey’s Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action. Students work in small groups and myself to browse through books or digital media about a topic. We used the topic of rainforests since they were learning about evergreens in their classrooms and I wanted to connect the different types of trees and animals they might see in each type of forest. As they were reading and looking at pictures, if they found something they were wondering about, they would circle the words “I wonder” on their paper. If they learned something new, they circled “I learned.” Beneath this, they would draw a picture and I scripted their words. I want even my littlest learners to understand that both pictures and words can help you to ask questions and learn new things.

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THE CURRENT PROJECT

At this point in the school year, I often want to do inquiry or research with my students. They have used their library, class and tech time to learn about all kinds of resources, become better readers and thinkers, and good questioners. I also look for opportunities for my students’ learning to be shared not just among themselves or our school community, but to the wider world as well. I am taking advantage of a collaborative effort between librarian Shannon Miller and Cantata Learning called Celebrations Around the World. It is a global project in which students learn about and share in whatever way they choose, about celebrations of their choice. This works well for me since I teach at two schools, whose curricular focuses are slightly different.

I also wanted to have students investigating something besides animals or states, but that would still be really interesting to them. 1st grade classes have a One World focus in their classrooms and will be selecting a type of celebration such as Valentine’s Day and investigating how it is celebrated in other parts of the world. The 1st/2nd graders have been studying Brazil with their classroom teachers and we will be exploring similar celebrations in other South American countries. The 3rd/4th grade classes will be researching National Parks which are celebrating their centennial birthday this year.

OPEN – All grades began by listening to and singing along with the Happy Birthday interactive book from Cantata Learning. The words were sung in English, Spanish and also shown in sign language. Because it is a song that everyone knows, the kids just joined right in. Including the different languages was a great hook, because it got them thinking about other cultures and celebrations other than just our traditional U.S. holidays.

 

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IMMERSE – Each grade level is reading a picture book that starts getting them thinking about their topic. This week the 1st & 2nd graders read the book I Lost My Tooth in Africa, which is a true story about a girl who loses her tooth while visiting family in Mali. Instead of what my students are used to (money), the girl in the story receives CHICKENS! This really intrigues my students and even more so after reading the author’s note explaining how the story came to be. My classes of 3rd/4th graders will be reading The Camping Trip that Changed America by Barbara Rosenstock. This is a fictionalized story of the camping trip that President Roosevelt and John Muir took in Yosemite in 1903, which eventually led to the establishment of our National Park system. I expect to have some terrific conversations about why this happened and it’s impact.

With the 3rd and 4th grade mixed classes, I will be using a form of inquiry journal to begin to have students record thoughts and ideas.

EXPLORE – For all groups, the next step will be to browse through many different resources as they begin to develop their inquiry questions.

When this inquiry project is finished, we will be adding the student shares to the Celebrations Around the World Google Slides. Not only will we be learning a lot, but we will be able to share with participants from around the world. I am really excited to see where the students go with this!

Reading this post over, I can see that I have been learning a lot over the course of this year and still have a lot to learn. It is a process for sure, but it is a great challenge too!

Looking Forward in Connecticut!

There are a lot of things I am looking forward to as March begins here in central Connecticut. My daughter’s 9th birthday comes tomorrow. College basketball’s March Madness. SPRING – can we really get through this winter with only 2 snow days? But one of the things I most look forward to is having a nice chunk of time to do some focused learning in the library with my students.

My name is Jenny Lussier and I am an elementary school library media specialist in Durham and Middlefield, CT. I work in two schools, a PreK through grade 2 school (next year it will be up to grade 3) with about 200 students and a Kindergarten through grade 4 school with about 240 students. My library classes are on a fixed schedule, with each class coming once a week for 45 minutes. Before becoming a librarian, I was a classroom teacher in grades 5 and 6 for 11 years.

I have always been a reader (you will always find me sharing book ideas with anyone who will listen). Technology has also been a major interest for me, beginning way back with the first Apple computers and continuing today as I love exploring new things, like robots! Growing up, my family culture was always about learning and discovering new things. But as a teacher and librarian, I found research to be the most challenging area with which to help students.

Since I started in the library 8 years ago, I was convinced that elementary students, especially our K-2s, could do research, especially through the inquiry process where they were asking their own questions. Isn’t that what young children do? I remember the “Why? Why? Why?” phase of my own kids. So why was it that when they arrived at school that we stopped letting them?

Fast forward to the Common Core being introduced. Imagine my excitement to see the expectation of research included in the standards, including the importance of “short and sustained research projects”. But I was still looking for the best methods to use with my students. While attending American Association of School Librarians (AASL) national conference in nearby Hartford, CT in 2013, I began to hear about Guided Inquiry Design and how effective it was. The November/December 2014 issue of AASL’s publication Knowledge Quest featured the topic of Inquiry, including a number of articles featuring Guided Inquiry Design. I began to informally add Guided Inquiry into the research my students were doing in library class and sharing with teachers. The resource I used and still love is Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action by Harvey Daniels and Steph Harvey, which has some terrific ideas. I also worked with a middle school colleague Laura D’Elia on a presentation for AASL 2015 called Get a GRIP!: Guided Research Inquiry Process, sharing our experiences with Guided Inquiry Design.

A colleague and I attended a webinar with Leslie Maniotes in September 2015 and were simply blown away by this model. We were so excited that we brought the library and information technology specialists together along with our curriculum director to create a learning community to learn about various inquiry models, but especially the Guided Inquiry Design framework. We also ordered and read Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School. In November, I attended the AASL conference in Columbus and went to every session I could find about Guided Inquiry Design. (I got to meet Leslie too!) I brought many ideas and resources back to our PLC.

So now, I am looking forward to using my library time in collaboration with what classroom teachers are doing this spring. I look forward to learning more about and trying out GID with my students. I am also looking forward to more of this collaboration about GID with some amazing educators!

More to come later this week and Go HUSKIES!
Jenny

Wisconsin Reflections

Collaboration – I took the lead as the main presenter and grader. The Dean and I discussed the assessment process and grades. I shared all PowerPoints in a Google Folder with students, Dean, Social Studies teacher, and Special Education Teacher. The Dean was new this year and appreciated being a partner. The Social Studies teacher added knowledge and credibility, as he was a former National History Day Judge. A current National History Day Judge came to campus and mentored our students on how to narrow their topic. We all learned from her tips. The reference librarians at the public library were invaluable guides for our students when we spent a day there gathering information.  The Dean, social studies teacher and I sat down after the project was completed to reassess time commitments for next year, school calendar, and what need to be tweaked as far as content and process. Next year we want to include a day at the Wisconsin State Historical Library because they have a huge amount of primary sources and they encourage high school students to come there. They will give our students an orientation when they arrive.

Third Space – Every student chose their topic based on a passion they had for a seminal event or person or groups of people that impacted history.  They had much to learn about the importance of primary sources and citing them. Many thought they could just report on their prior knowledge and information they got from secondary sources. They learned how to analyze their sources and how to create meaning from all their notes. They had choices on how they would  share out. The research topics were as varied as the students:

  • The impact of psychedelic drugs in the 1960’s on artists’ creativity;
  • The Saturn Project;
  • The Challenger Disaster;
  • Rosemary Kennedy and her impact on Special Education laws;
  • Ballet;
  • John Deere;
  • Trench Warfare;
  • Animal Testing;
  • The Little Rock Nine;
  • Jamestown Virginia and the tobacco industry;.
  • Homer and Greek Warfare;
  • World War 2 battles with Japan and China;
  • Hawaii and the impact of the Protestant Missionaries and the Pineapple Industry.

Their choices. Their passions.

The projects that competed at Regional National History Day competition in Madison Wisconsin were:

Individual Exhibit, Trench Warfare: A Death Sentence for Thousands

Individual Exhibit, The SLS-51-L That Failed The Tragedy That Haunts Humanity

Individual Exhibit, Apollo Program: Changing the World for Half a Century (This project advanced to state competition)

Group Web Site, Animal Rights: Testing in Experiments (This project advanced to state competition)

Student Questioning – this was the biggest challenge as the students did not have previous experience with creating higher level questions, historical analysis, and building a strong thesis. I used the work from New York State as a guide. Empire State Information Fluency Continuum. http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/1A931D4E-1620-4672-ABEF-460A273D0D5F/0/EmpireStateIFC.pdf

Technology – all students have a Mac Book Pro. This is a 1-1 school. It was a challenge to have them not use Google. I guided them to curated resources that I included on their school’s online catalog. If you want to see these resources click on https://sdj.follettdestiny.com/common/welcome.jsp?context=saas40_4832480&siteid=100&districtMode=0 and then click on Rock University High School . We encouraged them to use Noodle Tools. It  is such an efficient tool for building bibliographies, note taking, and outlining. I need to learn more about the capabilities so I can better inform the students. They were not motivated to view the Noodle Tools tutorials. They wanted to “get er done!” I had the students share their Noodle Tools work and their work they completed in Google Docs with me. I commented within 24 hours.

Parents Comments at Open House and a Regional Competition

We judged the final projects at an Open House for parents. All parents came to the Open House. In many cases, the parents commented that this was the first academic challenge their child had ever participated in. The parents were extremely proud of their teenager’s work. As we judged the projects, based on the National History Day Judging Criteria, we had conversations with the students and their parents. We wanted as many students as possible to consider entering their work at Regionals. It was their choice.

One parent stated, “I could not believe how involved he was. I never once saw him using his computer to just watch You Tube music videos. He wanted to do such a good job.” This student made it to the State competition.

What questions do you have about our project?

What tips do you have that you would like to share?

What projects do you work on with teachers?

What are your challenges?

Thank you for participating in the BLOG postings. Keep up you dedicated work.

Kathy Boguszewski

National History Day Project inWisconsin

Recent Project: The GID Process

In the 2015-16 school year, after participating in a Guided Inquiry summer institute, my partners at the Charter School: the social studies teacher, the Dean, and I decided to implement the Guided Inquiry Design Process throughout all content areas. We started with the National History Day Project. I created a student journal that the students used to capture their thoughts. I collected the Journals daily and commented. The student journal is an adaptation of a journal that Leslie had teachers use when we participated her GI Institute. The students commented that they appreciated not always having to use technology to compose their thoughts.  I created PowerPoints for each session. I added all the PowerPoints and other documents to a Google Folder and shared the folder with the students and my teacher partners. I also encouraged the students to email me any time they had questions. Several students, who were not able to make it to all the classes, appreciated that they could keep up with the class lessons in this manner.

The Open session was our most challenging as we never took the time before to open students’ minds: to get them excited about the journey they were starting. After participating in the Institute, we wrestled with different ideas.  In one of Leslie’s posts on her Guided Inquiry Design Facebook page we found some great suggestions. We mentioned the theme, which was Explore, Encounter, and Exchange in History, and that we would spend more time with what the theme meant in the coming days. We viewed the Sir Ken Robinson video Changing Education Paradigms. https://youtu.be/zDZFcDGpL4U. The students took notes using guided questions in their Journal. They discussed in Inquiry Circles how that video spoke to them. How did Sir Ken explain the historical context of education reform today? How did he captivate them while exchanging his ideas? I was surprised at how many students were diagnosed with ADHD when they were younger. They could really relate to Sir Ken.

Historical context is often difficult to understand. One of the suggestions in the GID Facebook page was to have them watch and discuss a more current topic to which they could relate. They watched History of Apple and the First iPhone: RIP Steve Job. https://youtu.be/BG4azxx1XjI . Many students had not seen this video. Time passes so quickly. Most of them had mobile phones and historical context started to make sense. Again, the students took notes using guided questions in their Journal and shared their thoughts in Inquiry Circles.

The reflections in their journal gave us an insight into what they were wondering about at this beginning stage.

The Immerse Stage was also a challenge. Students had never taken the time just to discover content while they built background knowledge. We spent time viewing and discussing a National History Day winning video. The Tiananmen Square Massacre: A Government’s Encounter with It’s People. https://youtu.be/fS6NoRWZv1w. They again took notes from guided questions in their Journal. We also immersed the students in political cartoon analysis. Most students had no background knowledge of the what political cartoons were and how to analyze them. They are excellent primary sources for understanding historical context. Some student’s reflections revealed they were changing their thoughts on topics. That was a good thing.

The other stages: Explore, Identify, Gather, Create, Share, and Evaluate had challenges also since this was my first year implementing GID within the National History Day Project. I was determined to implement the process with fidelity. However, to do that we needed to take the time during class. They spent time looking at exemplar National History Day past winners. They also spent time Asking the Experts in the Google+ Hangouts. These sessions were invaluable during the Create stage. Determining which category they were going to enter, in order to share what they learned and how to write up the Process Paper were a challenge they had not encountered in previous research projects. They studied the judging criteria, which set the expectations.

National History Day requires an Annotated Bibliography. The students who used Noodle Tools had no problem with this requirement.

The students shared their project several weeks ago at a Parent Open House. Homemade punch and cookies were an added appeal. Later on in the BLOG I will share the parent’s reflections. The students shared their thoughts throughput the entire process through reflections and dialogues in Inquiry Circles and with the entire Inquiry Community. They also gave input during the final Evaluation Session. Common themes were:

  • Students learn more by listening, communicating, and working with peers;
  • They relish input from their peers;
  • They desired to dig more into their topic because they chose the topic based on a theme.

Next year the theme is “Taking a Stand”. I am already looking forward to working with the students next year. Every year I learn and the next year benefits from that learning.

For the next project I will be working with the seniors on their Global Issues Capstone Project. They choose an international problem and after thorough research they present solutions from their informed point of view.  They will follow the GID process. They will connect with an expert mentor in the field as a resource. They will write a paper. Then they will present in a creative and meaningful way to an authentic audience who gives them input. Often times their expert mentor will also give them input during the evaluation component of their final project. Voice and Choice are key actions for personalizing learning. Voice and Choice are also critical motivators for them to stay engaged through an extended timeline.

If you questions, I am happy to reply in the comments section. In the end students commented they were never prompted to think and share their thinking with their peers before. They gave this project very high rating when they communicated on their successes at the school. This project provides rigor within a guided process.

Kathy Boguszewski