Hello from Westborough High School, Westborough Massachusetts!
In the early days of teaching, I learned quickly that letting students ask questions – that I didn’t know the answer to – was a sure way to keep curiosity an integral part of learning – for students as well as their teacher. As a library teacher, I have always looked for engaging ways to infuse this questioning into the research process. I became very interested in inquiry based teaching strategies that allowed students to delve deeply into a topic of their choice very early in my career.
My true experiential teaching with inquiry began with middle school students on a fixed library schedule. The schedule gave the opportunity to work closely with these students, their thoughts, and their research journals. I created “research stations” that moved them through the process of research at their individual pace and ability. I had learned about Carol Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process, among others, in a graduate school and enjoyed putting these processes to the test with my middle school students.
Fast forward a few years, to my current position as Library Teacher at Westborough High School. Again, looking to bring process to the practice of research, I continued to delve into inquiry based teaching strategies and to promote curiosity, engage students in asking questions, thinking critically, and solving problems. As teachers approached me with projects, I probed for projected outcomes and discussed with colleagues about the shift that could happen with this type of learning.
When the opportunity arose to apply for the CISSL Summer Institute at Rutgers University, I knew that we needed to try for a spot with a team from WHS. I was able to gain the trust of Marci D’Onofrio (a science teacher), Kathy Stoker (an English teacher) and Carol Cavanaugh, (the assistant principal at the time) to apply to become a GID team. The Institute was instrumental in shaping our pedagogy around inquiry.
And so begins the journey…
Westborough High School